Facebook forcing us to download Messenger is a brilliant move

Facebook Messenger
Thumbs up or thumbs down on Facebook putting messaging in a separate app?

As you may have heard, Facebook is making a significant change to the way messaging works on its mobile app. Specifically the company is removing the messaging functions from the primary Facebook Mobile app and has begun shunting its users into the separate Facebook Messenger app for chat.

And this is the crazy part: it requires an entirely separate download.

We all know how onerous it is to download apps these days. It can take tens of seconds for a new app to install, just so you can hate-play Kim Kardashian: Hollywood.

The Internet's response was, of course, measured and nuanced.

Ah ha ha ha. Sorry, that one gets me every time. The Internet's response was the exact opposite of measured and nuanced. In fact, to look at its reaction, you'd think the company had mounted an armed invasion of Kansas while simultaneously running over everyone's grandmother and strangling a paralyzed puppy.

Now, I'm always glad to see people getting energized over something truly important (after we tackle this problem we're going to get right on climate change and world hunger, right?). But I'd also like to offer a few words as counterpoint to the prevailing view.

Those few words are these: I freaking love Facebook Messenger.

Driven to distraction

Why do I love an app that most people seem so deeply persecuted by? Because it allows me to use Facebook's messaging system the way I'd most like to. Which is to say, without using Facebook.

Now let's get one thing straight up front. I am a happy and willing participant in Facebook and its trademark shallow, scattershot virtual interactions that have permanently devalued both liking something and being someone's friend. Though we may not actually talk to one another any more, over the past few years my "friends" have become extremely good at crafting droll commentary about what they're doing, how they feel about current events and which puppy videos are the very, very best puppy videos. And I find all of this very entertaining.

So I don't hate Facebook. But I do know I can't be trusted with it.

Facebook is the most scientifically advanced form of distraction mankind has yet created. Its intoxicating stew of self-absorption/congratulation/loathing results in an endless series of click-holes, available any hour of the night or day, with a reliable percentage of new things I can watch, read, shake a fist at, or comment on. It is the endless regress, the garden of earthly delights, the ultimate entertainment, the abyss from which no man returns (at least not without an inspiring story about an Ivory Coast cacao farmer that puts EVERYTHING into perspective).

Thus, much like drinking, catfishing and trolling the comments sections on Diary of a Quilter, Facebook is strictly an after-hours activity for me. As someone who works at a computer all day, if I start allowing Facebook into my daytime routine, I'm toast.

Still, though, I need to communicate with people. And for better or worse, a lot of those people are on Facebook. Facebook remains one of the most reliable ways to get in touch with anyone you've ever friended, despite any changes to that person's job/phone number/last name/country of residence/stated racial affiliation. In addition to being a global timesuck and a cause of depression, Facebook is also a messaging service that almost everyone I know is signed up with, most of whom still use it at least occasionally.