Messaging Apps: Dividing People Since 1992

I’m not talking about how the lack of real interaction is pulling people apart because that’s been said to death. But the failure of messaging apps to deliver messages unbeknownst to senders and/or recipients of said message have been quietly destroying relationships.

I first learned about the incredulous way messaging apps can fail a few years ago when a friend, K, accused me of ignoring her. I don’t remember the details but on my end, our interaction went something like this:

Her:  <some random joke>
Me: <nonchalant sticker>

A few months later, when a common friend from Singapore, L, visited, the three of us met. L asked if I met with K while he was back in Singapore (because L introduced K to me and he hoped we can be good friends), and to my surprise, K told him I was very mean because I declined her invitation.

I quickly jumped to my own defense and said she never invited me to anything. K insisted she did and showed me our exchange over Line app which looked like this:

Her: <some random joke>
Her: Do you wanna grab dinner next week?
Me: <nonchalant sticker>

I was flabbergasted. The even worse thing was that Line marked both messages from her as “Read” when I didn’t even receive the second message. I showed her my phone, which she initially claimed I deleted her message, but at that time, messages couldn’t be deleted. That was when we realized how frightening such apps can be when they decide to fail.

A few months ago, I got to know this girl, N. When she asked me out for a second date, I agreed and we arranged on a time and place to meet. That day, when I arrived at the meeting place and sent her a Line message asking where she was, she said she was on her way home because it seems that I didn’t want to meet. I was shocked. I looked back at our exchange and only saw us last agreeing to meet. I sent her a few messages asking her what happened, and the weird thing was, among the three separate texts that I sent, only the second and third were marked “Read” while the first wasn’t. That was when I realized she might’ve sent me some message prior to our meeting which I didn’t receive and to which I didn’t respond. That could’ve been the reason for her being upset. She never responded to my messages and we’ve not contacted since.

But Line isn’t the only culprit. Last year, before I visited Nagoya, I messaged a former student and told her about my visit and we decided to meet up for coffee once I finalized my travel dates. When I did finalize my travel date, I sent her the message over Facebook Messenger. The message was immediately marked read with her image icon falling next to my message, but she never replied. I thought perhaps she decided not to meet me but didn’t know how to turn me down.

One year later, which was a few months ago, I thought to check on how she’s been doing. When I opened our chat window to message her, her image wasn’t next to the message I sent a year ago and my message had the blue outline of a white circle, which is how Facebook identifies messages not delivered. I was surprise because a year ago, it was immediately marked read as soon as I sent it. I messaged her and asked her about it, and she said she never received anything from me.

There are a few too many other instances, among which a few are in the present continuous tense (←Japanese expression). Yes, I still do have some messages that I sent out but remain unread for the weirdest longest time with friends. I wonder how many more relationships have been destroyed around the world. For someone with such few friends already, I fear someday I may have no more friends, thanks to messaging apps.


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