Ticks causing fever were documented as far back as ancient Egyptian times; they're also famous for spreading Lyme disease. Australia even has something called a Paralysis Tick, which you don’t often hear mentioned in their tourism brochures. But there’s a new tick in town that’s a lot more useful to us… the blue ticks on a WhatsApp message, indicating that we’ve officially communicated with someone.
You can send images, video clips, audio files and make calls, and the company prides itself on being securely encrypted, for free. All with an interface that makes it easy for your technophobe aunt to use, partly why it’s achieved so much success over the last decade.
Other messaging options like Viber, Telegram and WeChat are all solid, but can’t beat the current messaging heavyweight champion. With 30 billion WhatsApps sent daily, it's the most popular messaging application on the planet.
What is the protocol with WhatsApp and instant messaging? Does it have a place in business, or is it just for sexting couples or teen gossip? Is it too intrusive to be used on a professional level?
Using Direct Messages on Twitter, Facebook mails or even asking someone to get hold of you via your Instagram comments could once be seen as an encroachment on privacy, but are now all fair game to aid communication. Like it or not, shouldn’t we be able to use all the new communication tools at our disposal?
When cellphones first came out, they were nice to have, and then became an invasion of privacy. Getting hold of someone immediately suddenly became the most important thing. Was instant connection just as important when you could only get hold of people on a landline? Back then you had to plan ahead for proper correspondence.
Even further back, Pheidippides is said to have run from Marathon to Athens (250km) to deliver news of a military victory against the Persians. If only he’d had WiFi.
Is IM the new e-mail?
E-mail will never die, but it’s not the most efficient form of quick communication anymore. We check our phone screens faster than checking email. WhatsApps arrive in our faces as soon as we wake up and silence the alarm, before we can open our mail or try to remember our Facebook login.
Some companies are even using it effectively in a booking capacity, allowing customers to book couriers, order food and deliveries. Or corresponding with clients when they need to send bulk updates.
Just because someone’s seen your message (you have a 'proof ticks’), does it mean they need to respond to you immediately?
Are they your personal call centre? Or did they glance at your message just before driving around for hours? Instant messaging leads to the need for instant gratification.
It’s now also a tool to make you angry when someone’s not responding to you on other platforms, when you ‘saw’ they were online an hour ago. WTF?
Instant messages seem to get better response than leaving a voice mail. The phone was invented to make calls, but everyone now avoids answering them.
Groups and Broadcasts
WhatsApp Groups are great to get discussions going. Like a Best Man group to figure out the most creative groom humiliation they can devise, or perhaps even for a business project group.
It’s good for organising and collaborations, but it’s also good for spam and getting people offended when someone leaves the group.
Clear the ghost towns when complete, those groups created and abandoned after events. Also make sure you’re not sending any pics of your genitals to the hockey mom group. When sending nude selfies, always be vigilant. If there’s nothing else you take from this, let it be that. (Alternatively crop your face out of the shot and post away.)
Instead of Groups, consider using Broadcast to send reminders or notifications. Broadcast avoids inane replies and irrelevant memes being sent back to everyone. No one can see who else is on the list and only the Broadcast creator receives responses. A bit like a BCC on an email.
To create a Broadcast List:
Open WhatsApp. Go to the Chats screen > Menu Button > New broadcast. Tap + or type in contact names to choose recipients from your contact list. Tap Done. Tap Create. Add an avatar image that you took too long to find and is probably unnecessary.
If you happen to be a sneaky person, this blue tick trick is suggested by the Internet, to keep your read receipts on but stopping someone from seeing when you’ve actually read a message: Before opening the message, switch to airplane mode. Open the message with airplane mode on, then leave WhatsApp and turn it off. The ticks shouldn't turn blue, indicating that they haven’t been read. Handy if you’re in stealth mode or teens having an argument.
Is instant messaging a useful tool or a way to invade privacy, especially when used outside of personal relationships? It all depends on how you do it and your intentions. These tools aren’t going away, and are getting even more efficient.
So go ahead and nudge friends, family, potential lovers or clients with whatever instant messaging option works best for you, but do it responsibly. Don’t spam or be the loudmouth at the party. Just because it’s an efficient platform, doesn’t mean you should take advantage of it. And if you need a break from all the messaging mayhem, switch off your phone, sit on a park bench and enjoy some quiet time.