Green Versus Blue

The world is full of contrasting colors: white and black, blue and pink, but what about green and blue?

In today’s day and age, we send messages to our friends and family, and expect them to be delivered almost instantaneously. Platforms like WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal, and iMessage have sprung up in the last decade. These platforms essentially sprung up to fix the shortcomings of the Short Message and Multimedia Messaging services (SMS/MMS) which most if not all phones are equipped with. iMessage as a platform is quite unique and will be the focus of this post.

iMessage was introduced to the world in 2011 with iOS 5. Since then, it has probably delivered billions of messages to people around the world. It now supports all of Apple’s platforms including the Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac. iPhone users account for ~47% of cellular users in the United States, and if you figure every iPhone user is an iMessage user, about 1 in 2 people in the US uses iMessage. iMessage is different from the other platforms in one unique form. The only apps that officially run iMessage are the same apps which a user receives regular cellular text messages from. These apps typically take the name of “Messages” on Apple platforms. Platforms like Telegram, Signal, and WhatsApp are totally separate apps from their typical text messaging counterparts. iMessage has one fairly glaring way of telling users whether a conversation is an iMessage or text messaging conversation. In a conversation between iMessage users, each respective person will see their messages as blue. In a conversation that isn’t all iMessage users, each respective person will see their messages as green.

So why is this a problem?

iMessage, like other platforms, brings loads of features that SMS/MMS conversations simply don’t have. iMessage users grow really accustom to those features. They grow so accustom to those features that non-iMessage users can become second-class citizens to them. iMessage users will lament group messages with “green messages” because the experience is that much worse. In some cases, non-iMessage users will be left out of group conversations completely because of this. As someone who recently graduated college, I have first and second-hand experience. iMessage users will shame their “green message” friends for either having crappy phones1, crappy service providers2, or a crappy operating system, which in many cases is Android. The whole superiority complex among (some) iMessage users can be purely linked back to Apple’s branding and side-by-side handling of iMessage and text messages. Apple’s branding is one of power. Having the newest iPhone is a symbol much like having fancy shoes, watches, or cars is a symbol. Many people take this messaging to heart, and the “green message” issue is a very popular way for iPhone users to flaunt. After a while, this flaunting, even when said jokingly, gets tiring and comes off as extremely childish. I am consistently shamed by certain people for being an Android user, or a “green messages” person.

Tonight this issue was extremely apparent. Georgie and I were at a brewery, when we joined a bachelorette party full of millennials. We were chatting and just generally having a good time. I started to talk to these women about my blog, and this specific blog idea in particular. One of the women in the group interjects that she got so tired of seeing green messages in conversations with her husband that she forced him to get an iPhone. How forceful was she? I don’t know. But the fact that this green versus blue issue has become so ingrained in society has really become an issue and really, it is time for it to stop.

No one is better than anyone else when it comes to what messaging platform they choose to use. Mine most of the time just happens to be the standard SMS/MMS which comes on almost every mobile device in existence. Don’t shame anyone because your messages are green when talking to them. We are mainly just people living in a world ran by a duopoly3 where only one side gets access to a proprietary feature, iMessage. I’ll save my rant on the mobile ecosystem for another time.

  1. I have the Google Pixel 5, so I doubt it. What is really happening here is Apple being poor at supporting standards, SMS and MMS in this case. Apple has created a subpar SMS/MMS experience for its users, whether accidentally or purposefully, that makes iMessage users want to continue using it. ↩︎

  2. Many times the iMessage user and the non-iMessage user share the exact same network. ↩︎

  3. For some of us, its a monopoly because we don’t want to submit to the closed ecosystem of Apple products. Librem, please succeed. ↩︎

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