Messaging Politics

A while ago a friend told me about how they got dumped on WhatsApp and how that was insulting that the other person couldn’t even call. Bear in mind I don’t recall any mention of doing it to their face. While this is true, I think it’s even more insulting that it wasn’t an SMS.

Protocols matter in ways most of don’t realise in our day to day lives. An SMS is not a WhatsApp message is not an email is not a thread. How the things get to us and how we chuck them back doesn’t matter as much as who has them and how. The lowly, sturdy and dependable SMS used to be a thing of wonder. It was at one time, the most expensive bandwidth ever. Yet, like email, it is a thing that you just always assumed was there.

Messaging apps like WhatsApp came about largely because SMSs were damn expensive. But it was there on your phone, as in you could transfer the actual file if you wanted to, like you could put a photo in an album and then rip it up one day in anger and then tape it back together. You owned and SMS, and that prick couldn’t even pay for that. This is what would have pissed me off. That I don’t even really own that message in its true form. It’s like getting a letter, but some sort of self-destructing James Bond sort of letter that at some point, who knows when, someone can make disappear.

But let us suppose it’s not just getting dumped, but it’s having a bank foreclose your house, or being notified that you’re about to be divorced and the courts are looming. Would this be acceptable in a Facebook message? No. SMS? Not even. It should be brought by horseback and announced with a trumpet or something. Hark, there rides a dark messenger on a dark horse bearing a scroll of doom. That sort of thing. This will never happen, but you get paper whether you like it or not. The protocol has a sense of decorum. This happens and then that and it has an appropriate housing. So maybe think a bit next time about how you’re getting your messages and what that means.