The other day I had a very obvious realization. I was watching a 90’s movie and the main female character was struggling to unlock her front door as her male suitor left a message for her on the answering machine. Just as she burst through the door to pick up the phone, he hung up. It was at this point that I realized how far society and technology has come since then. Communication is such an essential part of our everyday lives. Most of the new generation doesn’t remember the struggle of fighting to get on the internet while a sibling was on the phone. They never experienced rushing to grab the phone before the person on the other end hung up, only to just miss them by a second. Finally, they never had to call a friend’s home phone, leave a message, and spend the next few hours waiting by the landline for the phone call to be returned. Today, contacting another person is as easy as reaching into your pocket for your smartphone, sending a quick text or snap, and waiting approximately ten seconds for a reply. Needless to say, this scene from Coyote Ugly really got me thinking about the endless possibilities we now have to talk to the people in our lives. More specifically, I began thinking about the numerous messaging systems we have available.
According to Statista, there are at least four different messaging apps people in the US use daily to talk to their peers. As of July 2015, the leading apps included iMessage, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, and Skype. Each platform, although very similar, serves a very specific purpose for its consumers. For example, I use each platform to contact different groups of friends. When messaging my immediate family or friends, like those I grew up with or went to college with, iMessage is my first choice. The main reason behind this is simply familiarity. I purchased my first iPhone when Apple released its products to phone providers other than AT&T and iMessage was the only messaging app available on the phone. I was a freshman in college and all of my friends were jumping on the new iPhone bandwagon, so I decided to ditch my Blackberry for the shiny new toy. Since we started communicating on this platform, we’ve never had reason to switch over to any other platform. If we move platforms, we would lose all the past conversations and pictures.
The next two platforms I began using were Facebook Messenger and GroupMe. These first came into my life between Sophomore and Junior year of college. Although most of my immediate friend group had switched to iPhones, about half of my friends from my Acappella group had switched to Androids. This made communicating on iMessage difficult at times, especially when chatting with big groups. To avoid this inconvenience, we decided to bring our group chats to Facebook Messenger and GroupMe. Both of these services allowed us to talk to each other and avoid any complications due to differing operating systems.
The last messaging platform I adopted was WhatsApp. This started more recently when my friends and I went to the Dominican Republic for spring break. This app allowed us to use wifi to text and call one another, helping us to avoid paying for an international cell service plan for the week. Although it began as an easy fix to a potentially expensive vacation problem, this year I have adopted it as yet another medium I use to communicate with my friends. When I entered graduate school, I became friends with girls that used this platform instead of iMessage. This was mainly because they were international students and it provided them with a way to communicate with people from both home and school without worrying about the international plan. No matter what the reason was for incorporating this app into my everyday life, it has now become the messaging app that I prefer to use and more people are beginning to feel the same way.
Last week, one of our classmates talked about WeChat and how it has made everyday life more convenient. In today’s society, convenience is valued above all else. This is seen with the popularity of delivery apps and car services, and yet we allow ourselves to be pulled in multiple directions when it comes to messaging apps. On any given day, I use each app at least 5 times. Although I do have valid reasons for using each platform, I do hope that someday, in the near future, one company is able to make the changes necessary to become the leading and main source of texting and communication. Now the big question is: who will be brave enough and have the necessary resources to do so?