Remember when email was cool? I do. It was just so cool to get a message from someone. It reminded me of when the doorbell rang when I was a child. Or, when the phone rang. It was a time of pleasant anticipation.
Today we text with abandon and fear the knock at the door and phones vibrate as often as they ring. Texting? The pleasure is gone, friends. We humans tend to overdo anything worthwhile. We turned email into a chore. We block callers we don’t want to talk to. And now we have twenty eleven ways to text and instant message.
There are more ways that ever to keep in touch and the options are growing. It’s not just vanilla SMS texting between smartphones, either. Apple has Messages; a platform unto itself, and one that creates obvious class distinctions (iPhone blue, Android green). Facebook has Messenger. The president has Twitter (thankfully, 80-percent of Americans are not on Twitter).
I like Messages on my iPhone because it’s fun but you don’t get the same experience on Mac or iPad. Type in text on the iOS App Store and you’ll rummage through a few dozen different ways to communicate with your friends. These instant messaging platforms are a dime a dozen; sometimes less.
I use WhatsApp because many non-Apple customer friends and family use it. It’s free. It does video and photos and shares files. It’s encrypted. All good, right? And it works everywhere except with a few hundred million outliers who don’t use it.
I use Line because it’s popular where WhatsApp is not. Line does one-on-one and group chats and has colorful cartoon character stickers and it runs everywhere, too; Mac, Windows, iOS and Android.
I use Snapchat because we have younger relatives and that’s how to stay in touch with them.
Facebook has messenger. Instagram has direct messaging. There’s Telegram, and Wire, and Signal, oh my! Plus a whole bunch of smaller, lesser known, less used messaging apps. Viber works everywhere, too.
That list of popular text messaging apps only scratches the surface. All are a bit different, but much the same. Why are there so many? This need to communicate with one another in a highly fragmented way should be cause for concern.
Remember, we used to love email. Now we hate it. Then we loved text messaging? Now it’s becoming a chore to keep up with all the friends, family members, neighbors, acquaintances, associates, and co-workers who use multiple messaging apps.
All the lessons of history in four sentences: Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad with power. The mills of God grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly small. The bee fertilizes the flower it robs. When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.
We may be going mad with the many ways we can do the same thing and not even know it.