Many expect that if they “see” you are online, that you have time to chat. In my experience, when you don’t do what other onliners expect, or you let them know those expectations are not entirely correct, (no matter how nicely) they get hurt feelings.
That said, it is perfectly O.K. to let others know when you are not available. ?Simply explain you are busy doing research or online for a specific task and do not have time at the moment to chat. Then ask when would be a good time to hook up later and? make the time to follow through.
On the flip side,?don’t expect just because you see someone is online that they are available to you alone. Ask first if they are available and have time to chat. If they don’t; do not take it personally.
When it comes instant messaging of any kind, whether it be IM, chat or texting, both sides need should show consideration as well as honesty with the other side about their availability and expectations. By doing so you avoid misunderstandings and will build stronger relationships.
How do you communicate if you are not available?