Away from Keyboard (AFK)

What is Away from Keyboard (AFK)?
Away from Keyboard (AFK) is a type of chat language that indicates that a user is stepping away from a hardware device. In the early days of internet chatting, it was often used in chat rooms and bulletin board systems to let people know when someone was available and ready to respond to text messages.

'Not at the keyboard' (NAK) is a common variant of 'away from the keyboard'.

In a focused internet chat, 'afk' can mean anything from kids arguing or looking out the window to monitor a backyard to times when users have to leave the room completely. This term was extremely useful in traditional settings where people were constantly chatting, back and forth on computers, wanting to know why there was a lack of immediate response.

In today's looser systems, 'afk' is not used that often. With smartphone texting, which has become the predominant method of digital chat, there is the idea that a sender takes his or her chances and realizes that there is a good chance that the person will be distracted or unable to communicate Reply to message. In a sense, the wait indicators in smartphone chat systems (such as small speech bubbles indicating that a user is typing) give clues as to whether or not someone is away from the keyboard. A term like 'afk' is not used in the email as it is assumed that someone will monitor their inbox at some point in the future. However, some people studying how technology is used today have noted that using an indicator like AFK could be used to indicate if someone is available to see a message.

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