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THE BLUE-TICK PLAGUE - READ AT 12:59 PM

Date: 2018-03-01



Stop what you are doing.

Odds are you are not safe, you might end up dying, or you could be lucky enough to walk out alive. Whatever the outcome might be, you'll eventually end up on your death bed.

Now try and imagine a time before 'blue ticks' or 'read receipts' ruled the world. Seems peaceful, doesn't it? Well, to be honest, those pesky ticks are just good enough for one thing and that is to let you know whether or not somebody has read your text, Facebook Message or WhatsApp. There is absolutely no benefit in knowing when someone has read your message and the time it will take for them to reply, a simple delivered notification will do, for now.

But the read receipt is this weird feature that alerts those in conversations when one party has received and processed the message, basically, your message was read and IGNORED. It acts as an etiquette enforcer, making sure everyone is available all of the time, and the acceptable response time is "Now". To make this whole concept even crueller, the exact time gets displayed on the screen. C'mon?

When social media started, having a thing called 'blue ticks' was not even on anyone's mind, you could go days without worrying about a message that was read and ignored, but fast forward 10 years later it now becomes a form of social media anxiety (SMA).

With social apps like Facebook that introduced the 'seen-function' in 2012, it has changed the way we communicate online for good, which makes SMA even worse.

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Social media is a great way to keep up with friends, but the need for more likes, followers and re-tweets can lead to anxiety and addiction. It is almost like the notification system encourages you to check your phone more often, use messaging apps more and become addicted to the process, basically get more addicted to social media, cause it is the worst thing you can do to your developing brain.

The little, glowing blue ticks are proof that the person on the other end has seen every word, every blurry photo and every damn update you've made, but they haven't made a peep in weeks. You begin to question the point of your friendship. You know their phone hasn't been stolen because they have posted or uploaded something onto Facebook and now you are forever alone and should go cry in a corner somewhere.

Let's take a step back, Instant Messaging has been around for years. Majority of our childhood memories can be linked with the days of MySpace, MiXiT and MSN, hammering out emoji-riddled conversations as fast and relentlessly as your service provider allowed it to go. But now, thanks to some little hopeful tech-bro somewhere in Silicon Valley, instant messaging has manifested into a whole new monstrosity, completely changing the way we communicate... for the worse! That being the dreaded Blue Tick Plague.

Be it Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Twitter DMs, Instagram, iMessage or Snapchat, cause who doesn't love sexting, it is virtually impossible to escape the blue tick plague or the read receipt epidemic, in whatever form they might be displayed. Seeing the 'Read XX:XX', those haunting blue ticks or the small profile picture in the corner of a chat window now dictates all of our online communication. The fact that Facebook now has the same form of 'event has been seen by' makes it even more difficult to ignore those countless invitations to shitty local gigs from that friend you have not spoken to in ages or a co-worker's birthday drinks that you would really like to avoid. Read receipts do not improve the problem of modern communication, instead, it becomes the latest tool in our mind-fuck arsenal; especially when it comes to dating.

In 2011 Apple introduced the read receipts, though the function can be switched off. WhatsApp also offers the option to turn off those haunting blue ticks in its settings, but it is more difficult to dodge them on Facebook and Snapchat, which does not offer any remedy to SMA. Some people go as far as using browser extensions and hacks to avoid SMA and read receipts have become a total power play, it sends the message "I have seen your attempt at communicating with me, but for whatever reason, I honestly do not give a shit". On a good day, where anxiety is just a droplet in your everyday life, you can convince yourself they've been stunned into silence by your awesome wit. But there is a reality behind this blue tick plague; one hour of not replying means they probably do not like you, 2 to 6 hours means they think you are ugly, 8 to 12 means they probably hate you, and 24 hours means they have gotten married and left you to die, so basically you are forever alone (again).

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With things like 'hyper-narcissism', especially among the younger generation, the read receipt, and blue tick plague can cause hurtful effects on users and their mental health. The days of replying to someone when, you know, you actually have time are long gone. We now find ourselves in a world where every interaction requires an immediate response, regardless of whether you are preoccupied with work, social events or countless other normal life things.

Majority people communicate via Facebook, and users try and fit it into their everyday life of doing things, which keeps users on the platform for as long as possible. It is an endless loop of you wasting your time watching stupid cat videos, while you wait for someone to reply your sent message. Knowing someone's seen your message but haven't replied straight away leads to paranoia, a humiliating emotional sucker-punch. We are left questioning things like: "what have I done wrong?", "Is Bae mad at me for not replying straight away?", "What if I was too straightforward in that message?". We end up creating baseless narratives around those blue ticks and 'seen' notification. It is utter BULLSHIT!

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We are a social group that is frantically scrambling around for some excuse of why we're taking X amount of time to reply because we now feel we're owed an instant response at all times.
In previous times, where life was much easier before the blue tick plague, 'sorry just seen this' would've been acceptable, but now, in the ever-growing connected social-world, the modern conversation is filled with SMA and the epidemic of the blue tick plague.

While some of this time is spent actively messaging other people, the typical user uses a majority of his or her time on Facebook observing other people without posting – sometimes called “lurking.” We end up becoming stalkers and being blue-ticked we think "what is that person doing? Are they talking to someone else?" and if you can see someone is online, you immediately think "Who is the other person then?"

All these social media apps literally just want to see the world burn, and the anxiety of being left on 'read' is silly, but it is real, and unique to this time.

We all have experienced the frustration on both sides, of being blue-ticked and ignored, and doing the same to others. But as it gets introduced to more and more platforms, we have to stop and think... Could this leave us in some dystopian, Black Mirror-esque nightmare, where we are all individually ranked among each other and constantly we have to interact with people socially? Who knows, maybe it is time to mute that group chat, even if it just for a little bit.

Perhaps it is time to close Instagram or Facebook, even if it just for a little while.

 



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