It’s not hard to understand why some employees tend to play fast and loose with IM content. Instant messaging conversations are instantaneous, and they take place in real time—the electronic equivalent of popping into a colleague’s cubicle for a quick, informal chat.
As an instant messager, you typically chat only with people you know, your buddies. You decide what names to add to your buddy (or contact) list. You determine whom to block from your buddy list. Consequently, some instant messagers may be tempted to be exceptionally free and easy with their language. After all, they reason, they are chatting with their buddies, their pals—trusted friends and family members who would never file a lawsuit claiming harassment, discrimination, or a hostile work environment—right?