Blue check marks

In the digital age we are becoming more and more available because the internet connects us all. Today many people use instant messenger apps such as WhatsApp. This app lets people send messages, images, contacts, audio, and locations to people all over the world given that both people have an internet connection.

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Image from WhatsApp official website: https://whatsappbrand.com

In early November 2014 WhatsApp introduced the two blue check marks to indicate when a message has been read. Before this there were only the one grey check mark to tell you that your message had been send and the two grey check marks letting you know that the message had been delivered. It is comparable to Instagram’s and Twitters read that is visible under direct messages.

Whatsapp: What the double tick really means

Image from source digit website: https://sourcedigit.com/13526-meaning-whatsapp-check-marks-whatsapp-ticks/

Simon Lindgren says in his book Digital Media and Society that society is influenced by digital communication networks such as WhatsApp. And I can’t help but wonder how the blue check marks have influenced society. There are of course many similar functions but for this blog post I will use the blue tick marks from WhatsApp.

One could argue that these blue tick marks are forcing us to become more available. With digitalization everything has sped up and so has our response time. With the visualized confirmation of a read message, we feel the need to respond fast and expect the same from other people.  When the blue check marks were a thing of the future, we could use the excuses that we did not see the message but with the blue check marks that became a lie that is easily identified.

I think it is safe to say that we have all been, dare I say, victimized at least once by the blue check marks on WhatsApp. The dreadful feeling when accidentally opening a message that we wished to answer later because we were not in the mood for that conversation or just ignore the message because it is a conversation we do not wish to have and then feeling to need to instantly reply because the other person could see that we had seen it. 

When I began writing this blog piece, I thought that there were multiple pros to these blue devils but as I began to write down the pros and cons, I could only come up with one pro and that was hardly a pro. It really depended on which side of the conversation you are and even then, it is up to interpretation. The pro I came up with was that one could know when they are ignored and could confront a person if they wanted to but in hindsight maybe in some situations it is better to not know if you are ignored.

There are ways around these pesky blue tick marks. In the settings on WhatsApp, you can choose to immobilize the blue ticks and the people you are messaging will only see the grey checks (single and double). Another way is learning to master the skill of reading the message but not actually opening it.

Despite my ‘negative’ tone about blue check marks mine are on and when I converse with people who do not it is sometimes hard to grasp that you will never see those blue marks because in most of my conversation, I see them. Even when the matter is not pressing, or the conversation has ended, and you send the last message it can be nice and for the lack of a better word reassuring that the person had read the text. Sort of like the conversation really has ended when both people have seen everything that has been said.

So, to conclude in this post I can mostly name negative things about the blue check marks, but I still have them on because they have been for years and the feeling that I can be sure people have read my messages is more frequent than the times I had to force myself to answer despite not wanting to. 

Sources for this post:

https://nos.nl/artikel/2002504-de-blauwe-vinkjes-van-whatsapp-vijf-vragen

Simon Lindgren, Digital Media and Society (London: SAGE, 2017), 4