Facebook Chatting for Science

Since Facebook redesigned its messenger list this past summer, I have used the service less and less. These days, the times I use Facebook chat are the times I have found myself asking “What the [expletive deleted] was that sound?” only to discover a random message from someone in a forgotten browser window.

Having come of age during the heyday of instant messaging, it’s a wonder I retained the ability to actually speak those words, but these days my use of instant messaging has almost dried up completely. In this new age of social media saturation, I am discovering that I actually DON’T want to be connected to all people at all times, and signing off of instant messaging is a nice place to start.

When Facebook officially announced its new messenger client for Windows Monday (Mac version to come), it had everyone in our office scratching their heads as to why this was even a thing. Their dedicated mobile app made sense as a free alternative to text messages, but a dedicated desktop application just seemed extraneous. The Facebook chat service has been around since 2008, and has had integration with other applications like Adium, Pidgin, iChat et al. since 2010 at the latest, so why now? These third party clients make Facebook Messenger for Windows seem even more superfluous because they allow you to run more than one messenger service at a time, streamlining your work flow.

Curious as to why Facebook Messenger for Windows exists now, I spent the day using it—for science! I must say I was pleasantly surprised; it was actually more stable than the web interface, and features the tabbed chat windows I’ve become so accustomed to with other chat clients. What I really like about Facebook Messenger for Windows is the in-line News Feed; docked to the side of your screen, the occasional glance at the Feed scratches the itch for distraction without falling down the rabbit hole that is Facebook. There are also built in buttons for pending friend requests, messages you may have missed, and notifications, as well as a link to your own profile. I’m not sure why that last one is there, but if you like to Facebook stalk yourself, they have made it nice and seamless.

There are plenty of reasons not to use Facebook Messenger for Windows; I have concerns about data mining, and others may complain about the absence of video calling and group messaging. I’m still not sure why Facebook Messenger for Windows exists, but I don’t hate it.

About Cara O'Regan

Cara spent four years working on the front lines of consumer technology. She is a part time artist and full time nerd. Follow her on Twitter @cara_oregan!



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