I remember 1994. I had one messenger: the AOL Instant Messenger and the world was good. Then someone showed me ICQ and suddenly I had two messengers. One for people I knew from my AOL-times1 and for people who used ICQ. Then I learned to know some people from Australia. And believe it or not, Yahoo Messenger was popular over there. So I had now 3 accounts. And then I met through a public chat room2 some people I started to go to parties with. And yes, they used the MSN Messenger. Later I learned about Jabber/XMPP and another group of people used that. Multi-messengers to the rescue. But it still kinda sucked.
Time moved on and there was the hope that services are switching to XMPP. Because networks of friends where changing my messenger-needs changed, too. But the problem is the same. I still have to use several messengers. Thanks to mobile and how messengers set up nowadays I just have the disadvantage that a multi-messenger is not really possible anymore.
I use Threema for some friends and family. TextSecure for group chats at work, Hangouts with a couple of friends, Twitter-DMs with other friends, Skype-IM when I am playing P&P-RPGs online3, if I would still use actively app.net, I’d probably use also app.net-PMs. Some people still use only SMS on their phone because they do not have a smartphone and don’t see a reason why to get one4 and when I still used an iPhone, I also used iMessage. If I really wanted to be reachable by everyone I know, I would need to install WhatsApp and FB Messenger, probably Telegram and Line as well. And if I want to bring together people from different circles of friends, I run into the problem that person A doesn’t always use one of the messengers person B uses and both are reluctant to install yet another one.
And then the new hot shit comes along – perfect crypto, maybe stickers, maybe group chats. And how the hell should I move people from one of the messengers I recommended in the past to the new one? I am the „tech guy“ in my family and I do not know how I can explain why they should switch from Threema to TextSecure, just because it is open source and therefore it might be more secure but doesn’t have features like audio messages5. It seems that we are in for the long-haul with messenger hell and that it will never stop6.
And that’s why we can’t have nice things.
Yes, I moved on but before that AOL was just cheaper. I had the choice between AOL (local call + a fee per minute for AOL) or a distance call over 50km to log into a university-account. AOL was still cheaper.↩
Remember those? Not IRC or twitter but a webpage with a chat in HTML where people met to chat with strangers?↩
But Hangouts for the video-part. Strange world, isn’t it?↩
Which is perfectly understandable in their cases↩
or built-in voting – lolwut↩
Since XMPP wasn’t succesful it might be proven that a distributed messenger won’t work and when one company comes along to own them all, someone will say that it is an evil monopoly and therefore won’t use it and switch to another one↩