Facebook Messenger involves few changes but great reluctance

Let's Talk Tech



Giving in to the pocketwatch-wielding otter is inevitable.

He isn’t going anywhere, and the messaging feature isn’t coming back to the original Facebook app for smartphones. It’s officially time to throw in the proverbial towel and download Facebook Messenger.

In July, Facebook users had to make some difficult choices: should one download Messenger and suffer the indignity of using two apps for one purpose, or should one refuse to download the trite feature on principle and, as a result, be forced to use a laptop or—God forbid—a desktop computer whenever a message happens to arrive?

Though Facebook’s higher-ups tried to soften the blow of downloading an entirely separate app for a function previously encompassed by just one with a friendly cartoon animal, the otter could not disguise the fact that Facebook would now occupy two home-screen squares instead of one.

After everyone pitched the proper (and seemingly mandatory) fit about the update, though, the general consensus seemed to be that, perhaps, Messenger might not be so bad.

After all, the Facebook app opens Messenger automatically when the “Messages” button is pressed. In addition, the new app boasts a convenient “back” button for those who can’t be bothered with opening and closing the features themselves.

As it turns out, using Messenger requires even less work for the user than Facebook’s previous personal correspondence system.

As another plus, the smooth transition to and from the Messenger app is not nearly as irritating as the previous version’s pesky bubble notifications. Conversations are simply marked as “read” or “unread” in the user’s inbox instead of cluttering up his or her newsfeed with attention-demanding orbs.

Interestingly, despite the lack of visible reminders in the Facebook app (other than an initial notification flag), Messenger manages to combine the professionalism of emails with the speed of text messaging. Smartphones now treat Facebook messages as response-worthy texts rather than instant messages, a concept that has the potential to reshape modern methods of quick communication.

Facebook’s group messaging feature is essentially the same as before, but now, those with lots of time on their hands can spend hours putting their friends, acquaintances and family members into “groups.”

Should the opportunity to contact all of one’s cousins at once ever arise, one can, instead of typing each name individually, simply click the pre-created “Cousins” group. (Family reunions and funerals made easy.)

Disclaimer: since clicking “groups” only saves users ten seconds or so, spending hours creating groups might not actually be the most productive use of one’s valuable free time.

While the time-conscious (and fairly irrelevant) otter may have awakened users’ more rebellious side at first, Messenger has yet to cause the apocalypse. Since it’s here to stay, it is probably easier to simply download the new app and deal with its simplicity and innovation than it is to longingly reminisce about the bygone days of conversation bubbles.

But take comfort in this: if one truly cannot handle the stress of learning about his or her smartphone’s Facebook Messenger app and its two features, messaging looks the same as always on those ever-reliable desktop computers (at least for now).