If many masks are being presented together, then a well-rounded, sometimes, controversial personality could be revealed. Like gtalk or aim or msn. There's an icon place for you to show yourself, you can name your name, your feeling now, your statues now, sometimes even what music / game you're playing now. The "me" is presented to my friends, to my parents, to my students, to my boss, even to semi stranger who knows you, while I don't know him/her. All happen at the same time. Sometimes, I started struggling which mask am I going to wear? Which part of me am I going to present to such diverse audience? Which picture icon?
Then sometimes, in such a messy situation with all diverse audience being in one IM, some IM is being abandoned. And their friends, business contacts, relatives, students, schoolmates, who are important to them are being transported to other places.
In China, QQ probably is the IM with the largest number of users in the world. It's very early to come into people's life, especially teens, around 1997 or even earlier, and it's also so different than telephone which could easily be mapped to the real person, and there were also a lot of chatting room for strangers to meet. So later on, it's very well known for meeting strangers or semi strangers in QQ. But of course, friends, relatives also use that. So QQ number used to be very hot and you had to pay for that and it was also harder and harder to get new numbers later in 2004 or 2005. But at that time, to those people who adopted it earlier, they started abandon QQ number, because the mask was too true to some of their contacts, and too false to some others. (In fact, people filter their contacts, and if possible, transferred their valuable contacts to other IMs.)
It's such an interesting phenomenon and I want to collect abandoned QQ/MSN/AIM number and find the stories about them. anyone who's interested in it, we can talk!!