I like instant messaging (IM). It retains the asynchronous nature of email while adding the immediacy of a conversation. And it's usually more secure than email too.
Once upon a time, instant messaging was easy. There were a handful of big-name players in the game -- Microsoft, Yahoo!, AOL -- and you just had to choose the one that your friends had. And they all usually had more than one.
Many of those "big name" messengers are no longer around today, and text messaging has largely filled the vacuum they left. But I still like instant messaging. It's far more versatile than texting and isn't locked in to one screen. So I decided to pick a preferred messenger for this modern era.
I settled on Skype thanks to its features and ubiquity. Not only does Skype run on virtually every operating system and mobile device, but most computer users I know have a Skype account. Yes, I would use Skype as my first line of communication with everyone I knew. It was a brilliant plan. But like all brilliant plans, it had a major shortcoming.
Hardly anybody uses Skype anymore.
Sure, all those people have Skype accounts. But usually unless I cajole them a little beforehand, they're not already logged on.
Many people use Facebook Messenger, which also runs on lots of different systems, but I'm not a heavy Facebook user nor am I a fan of the type of tracking that Facebook does of its users. Plus, I might want to chat without having my "real identity" attached.
Google's messenger -- I'm not sure what they're calling it this season -- is pretty good, but it works best with Android systems. And Google still refuses to allow Windows Phone users to access their services.
Some folks use Twitter as a type of IM service, but that always seems like shoehorning the solution into the medium. Seeing people carry on back-and-forth conversations in public on their Twitter feeds still annoys me.
If I were younger, there would be a host of other messengers to choose from -- Snapchat, Tango!, WhatsApp, etc -- but I doubt that non-millennials are well represented on any of them.
So while I'm convinced that Skype is the best solution for my needs, it may still turn out to be an ineffective solution. And I'll probably end up resorting to text messaging or biting the bullet and using Facebook Messenger after all.
So which messenger do you use? Or have you given up on IMing altogether? Let me know in the comments.