Live Chat Experience

For this assignment we were asked to tell a story via some form of synchronous media (aka. live chat). While I usually chat through GChat and Apple Messages, I saw an opportunity to try something new when I was having trouble with my blog.

The DNS kept breaking, but only while I was at school. I am using a web hosting site to host my portfolio. I bought through them several years ago, when I didn't have many other options.

The site looks quite outdated, and is not very easy to navigate. They have lots of features that I have never used listed with icons in the style of Windows98. I decided to check out the support link, and discovered a live chat option. For about 5 minutes I sat in chat purgatory before they were able to connect me with a real person. His name was Rahul K.

I began to tell him my story, punctuated with new lines into the chat window. There was a long period of silence. As I continued to chat with Rahul, I became more familiar with this silence. Throughout the chat no response came within a minute. He asked me lots of questions without explaining what he was doing. He put me on "hold" twice.

The text I wrote was posted in bright red, where his response was a cool navy blue. It seemed like rhetoric and I wondered if I was really as angry as the crimson type. Then, another student approached me for sewing advice while I was typing, at which point I realized I was visibly infuriated.

There is a lot to be said about the medium of a chat window. For one, this took immensely longer than a phone conversation to the point that I would hesitate to call it synchronous due to the exaggerated gaps between responses. Also, I could not express emotion, thus I felt helpless. I wanted him to know my impatience, and I wanted to know he was helping me. I felt like I barely had his attention. Maybe he was paid by the hour, or playing Candy Crush, or surfing Facebook, or rapidly talking to half a dozen other customers, or taking micro naps. This person had no face to me and no voice. I thought about the chatrooms I visited in the early 2000s, and how this one felt so oddly obligatory. Is the anonymous customer support really the support we want for the future?

In the end he could not help me, and I guess that's what I expected. iPage offered me the full transcript after the chat. I rescued the transcript from my spam folder and read back through, but it seems so different without time stamps.

Chat duration: 38 minutes 56 seconds