Sundi Rose
Updated Apr 16, 2015 @ 11:42 am

Can’t talk right now — too busy trying to craft a clever away message.

Facebook has brought back the handy “away message” for those of us who need a little space from the constant contact our mobile devices insist on. They have decided to test a new service they are calling “sidebar status” that will show a personalized message when folks message us from the right-swipe sidebar.

Facebook understands us; they really do. They get that even those folks I message the most, I need to auto-respond to on certain occasions (i.e.,“Can’t talk right now — I’m bingeing Gilmore Girls. . .”). I can even add a little icon to the message, just for fun.

Long before cell phones gave us constant access to our friends and their activities, there was a little thing called instant messaging. AOL and Yahoo both had their versions of it, and it was the peak in digital communication at the time. With IM’ing you could chat right from your desk computer to other people who were also at their desk, on their computer.

If you got up, but were still online, proper etiquette dictated that you leave a little message explaining your whereabouts — you didn’t want your friends to think you were ignoring them! Those away messages were the grandfathers of status updates, and it looks like Facebook is giving that premise a little nod.

We don’t really “get up “ from our phones anymore, but sometimes we’re busy doing other stuff, and want our friends to know that we still love them, even if we aren’t answering their notifications.

The sidebar statuses will only show up in the sidebar, so there is no additional feed clutter or profile logjam. The messages will expire in 12 hours or if you change them, so it’s just a temporary way to let friends know when you can’t talk because “the pizza just arrived” or “my dog is doing crazy cute tricks right now.”

There are lots of privacy and restriction settings, but Facebook is testing this feature out in Australia and Taiwan, just make sure the kinks are all out. Pretty soon, however, that favorites list will know when you can’t talk and why.

(Images via)