iMessage Ends Friendships

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Waiting to receive a text from a potential new paramour is both exciting and vomit-inducing. What if they decide you’re fugly? What if they learn you voted for Trump? (Take a deep, long look inward then punish yourself). Then you get the text and it’s full of nothing but “hey there pretty thang” and “I wanna copulate then bake you a pie.” Good news, isn’t it?

Except your response brings some traumatizing news wrapped in a harsh green. You’ve got an iPhone and they’ve got solidified feces shaped like a phone. Obviously dating them is out of the question and sending them hate mail would be nothing short of completely reasonable.

The blue and green of iMessage, meant to indicate when someone is using a fellow iPhone or not, is practically Machiavellian in how it is meant to pit iOS and Android users against each other. “Green bubble trouble” engenders a ridiculous amount of petty rage and classist spite.

During birthday brunch for a friend, I pulled out my old Google Nexus and began texting someone via the archaic SMS. Someone’s boyfriend, let’s call him Jeff, noticed and began talking to me about Androids. After his mansplanations of why the Google Nexus and Pixel tech specs are good but not on the level as the iPhone’s (this man does not work in the tech sector and has never in his life owned or used anything but an iPhone, so his perspective is definitely an authority I should listen to), he treated me to a tale of his friend from college, let’s call him Nate. Nate was in Jeff’s friend group but Nate was the only one without an iPhone.

“It just made it so much harder to include him in group messages,” Jeff told me. The hideous green factor combined with text messages occasionally not getting sent to his right-hand-of-Satan Android device meant that “he just didn’t surface that much for two years.” Then he got an iPhone and suddenly contacting him was easy and he crawled out of his mole hole to mosey.

Shitty Jeff and his shitty friends are not assholes, you understand. They were just held captive by the reality that a mildly unpleasant green means you are physically and technologically incapable of socializing with someone you once called a friend.

Jeff and his posse of Plastics are not alone. The denizens of Twitter have spoken:

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And this charmer:

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And this humanitarian:

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Then there’s Michael Nunez, technology editor at Gizmodo, who wrote a whole piece on why he switched from Android to iOS. TL;DR: a cute girl from the internet saw the green bubble, didn’t want a second date, so Nunez went and bought an 800 dollar phone to get laid. I do hope it worked.

This is part of a larger Apple paradigm. While its products are admittedly solid pieces of technology, it wins the masses through an appeal to social networking. Specifically, to the terror of feeling left out of the club.

Think of the native iPhone app “Find My Friends.” There are many GPS tracker apps available for both iOS and Android but Find My Friends is the most popular for iPhones. Those without it are subtly pushed out of the club because they too cannot adorably stalk their friends. You’ve got an Android? Well you can’t use Find My Friends but you have no friends so that is fine.

The fact that Apple intends for this is no secret. At 2014 Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior VP of Software Engineering, referred to “green bubble friends” and their “inferior devices” in the same tone one uses for an embarrassing uncle who takes his pants off in public. You like them but they make it really hard and you’re a saint for still loving them.

I came across Federighi’s remarks when reading a piece by Paul Ford, a software developer and Medium Advisor, about the technical aspects of how Apple marks itself as not only distinct from but also superior to its rival tech giant, Google. Ford writes that he, too, would feel “pretty psyched” by the public reaction and jump to capitalize on it further.

“After all, what is a more powerful brand amplifier than social peer pressure?” he asks.

The colors, the snarky emojis and sassy VPs, all work together on behalf of brands like Google and Apple to help them “manufacture their own realities,” writes Ford. Apple’s reality has come true. Those without iPhones are unappealing and inconvenient to their friends on group chats and sexual lepers to everyone else.

All this said, I just got an iPhone to no longer be the green on my group chats so I’m part of the problem.