So, we’re now in the roaring twenties, with technology in every aspect of our life; some helps us and some hinders us. And I can’t think of an area where this causes more confusion and uncertainty than, which damn messaging platform do I use?
From SMS to Messaging
“In the olden days”, we used to just use SMS for our messaging, but then came all the IP-based messaging platforms. So, without listing them all, we probably all have a WhatsApp account, are likely to use Facebook’s Messenger, if we’re an Apple products user then iMessage (which may often feel like plain ol’ texting) is likely to be a favourite and now with privacy concerns, people have signed up to Signal, Telegraph and a whole host of others. Of course there’s Insta and Twitter and if you work in a corporate environment, chances are you’ll be familiar with Teams (if your employer is a Microsoft customer), or Slack (now part of SalesForce). So, with such a variety of platforms on offer, and people using ALL of them (not to mention all the ones I haven’t mentioned), how on earth do we manage our digital communications (notice how I haven’t thrown email into the mix – that’s a whole other communications nightmare!)?
There’s Too Many Options
Only today I ended up having messaging conversations on WhatsApp, Messenger, Signal, text, iMessage and Teams. In a few cases the same conversation was occurring on multiple platforms, and I had to cut and paste content to create a bridge – umph!
The fact is, many companies have tried solving this problem and just like “The Streaming Wars”, their answer is “forget about the rest, just use ours!”. So, it kind of requires us to take a side and after much thought, I have chosen one. And before I tell you which one it is, here are my reasons:
- It’s not tied to a phone number (like WhatsApp, Signal, etc)
- It’s not tied to an operating environment, such as iOS + Mac OS (think iMessage)
- It has direct connections to (a couple of) other messaging platforms
- It supports groups on multiple platforms and devices
- It has an encrypted mode
- It has a modern and exceptionally easy/intuitive user interface
- It can run on multiple platforms and multiple devices simultaneously (I run it on about 14 devices no less)
Isn’t Apple The Best?
So, I know many Apple users would say, iMessage works on all my devices simultaneously and I can do group messaging; the problem is, that all breaks down the second you include someone who doesn’t use an Apple device, which is about 3/4 of the world!
Trust and Big Tech
The problem with my choice, is that it’s owned by a company who don’t have the best reputation when it comes to handling my personal data. In fact, the whole area of trusting Big Tech is blowing up at the moment, increasingly there are less choices that make us comfortable, over time. The other problem is, because many people do not trust the maker of this product, it’s often overlooked by them, and in some age groups that’s not an insignificant amount of people. But well thought out tech is always worth using if we are prepared to pay the price, even if that price appears to be free (but that’s for another time).
And the Winner is…..
You guessed it, it’s the dreaded Facebook. I have noticed that while most Millennials have some relationship with the FB platform, Gen Xers seem to really stay away from it (including Messenger!). Instead, they often use WhatsApp (which, ironically, is owned by Facebook) but take great pride in saying “I’m not on Facebook”.
Well, what I want to tell the world is you don’t have to be “on Facebook” to use the wonderful product that is Messenger. Install the Messenger app and simply just not install the Facebook app. There are versions of the Messenger apps for just about every platform, so you can use Messenger in complete isolation to Facebook. In doing so you make yourself much more contactable and you will likely have a better messaging experience.
And if you’re worried about privacy and encryption, but you are happily using WhatsApp, just remember that Messenger is no less secure than WhatsApp, especially when you use “Secret Mode”.
We Just Have to Make the Choice
Ultimately, we just have to make a choice. Unfortunately, there is no perfect messaging solution; I wish there was. In fact, I’ve given this topic some thought, and I’ve landed on the concept of an open-source version of Messenger. If only Facebook would follow Microsoft’s lead (when they made their development tools open-source) and hand it over to the open-source community, we would then have the best option on the market that would not be controlled by either a single corporation or a government. Imagine how much better messaging would be…