I pretty much stopped paying attention to new social media platforms a while ago. They were coming and going so fast, there seemed little point in getting invested in any of them because they’d just be gone the next day. So other than a foray into Tumblr, I’ve stuck with Twitter and LiveJournal for some time, and those three covered most of my needs or wants in the social realm. Except for one thing: I missed chat.
I dumped AIM and ICQ ages ago due to security holes and general bugginess, but doing so left a big hole in my connections with friends. Anyone who wasn’t on Twitter pretty much faded into the distance, and even on Twitter the DMs tend to be spotty and slow for a lot of things.
But this past weekend at Midwest Furfest, the phrase I kept hearing over and over again was, “Do you have Telegram?” Everybody and their sister was using it to connect for commissions, to plan meal outings, whatever. So I decided that I’d better look into it. A quick download and a few keystrokes later, I was up and running on both the desktop and my phone.
My first thought? “Wow, it’s like the glory days of ICQ again!” You don’t get the adorable little “Uh-oh!” when a message comes in, you just get a beep, but you’ve got a friends list (based primarily on your phone’s contacts), in descending order based on how recently they’ve posted something (basically a less binary “online/offline” notification) and you can toss in emoji, “stickers” (which are basically GIF images like meme posts), and so on.
The best part, for me, is that I immediately restored contact with people I hadn’t been in touch with for years, or at best had sporadic contact through slower channels. We didn’t necessarily have real deep discussions beyond “Hey! You’re on Telegram! I’m on Telegram! We can chat again, yaaaay!” but it had the warm and happy feeling of coming home.
Given how depressing Twitter has become since the election, I would not be surprised if I spend less time there and more time on Telegram, where I can have more focused conversations with friends and “opt out” of the relentless barrage of bad news when I need a break. Over the years I’ve had amazing and transformative discussions with friends via chat, and maybe that can start happening again. 🙂