English, calculus, lunch with Emily and Lisa, history, gym, nap. Call the cell.

Chances are if you stalk your AIM Buddy List, like most students admit that they do, then you have seen an away message that looks like this.

Why does it seem as though only girls feel the need to list their entire schedule for everyone?

The most common away messages of my guy friends are: “around,” “out,” “gym,” “food,” “at work,” “nap” and “class.”

A look at girls’ away messages reveals the list format: “shower, paper, lunch, interview, soccer, paper” and “shopping, tanning with Amanda, then dinner with the girls.”

There’s a big difference in the styles of these messages. Guys don’t tell you who they are with, what their plans are before and after an event, and often don’t even give a specific location; they’re just “out.”

Don’t get me wrong; there are exceptions to this phenomenon.

There are the girls who take the one word approach or stick to one thing that they are doing instead of listing events. There are guys who want to regale their buddies with a story about something that happened to them. There’s also the ever popular song, television or movie quote that applies to both sexes, as well as the somewhat irritating blank away message.

People can’t get enough of revealing their lives on the Internet. If you’re not listing your whereabouts on AIM, then you’re sharing your interests, photos, and contact information via Facebook or MySpace.

Maybe we just never grew out of that imaginary-audience phase that we first entered into during adolescence.

“My Buddy List really cares what I’m doing all day,” we tell ourselves. “Even if I haven’t talked to that guy since junior high, I know he must look at my away message at least once every few hours.”

AIM has 50 million registered users, according to AOL. That is quite an audience we have, so we are obliged to entertain.

It is not that girls are conceited as a gender; girls just feel more pressure to look a certain way for their peers.

Girls may, and should, feel more pressure from their imaginary audiences than boys do, according to a study on imaginary audience by universities in Belgium and the Netherlands.

If girls feel more pressure from their imaginary audience, then maybe we take longer to grow out of this stage.

Our away messages are just an effect of being stuck in our imaginary audience phase, combined with a need for some organization that we gain from listing our schedule.

Eventually we will grow out of this phase fully and, as we develop, so will our away messages. Until then, enjoy listing your daily schedule in your away message. I know I will.

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