Do we rely too heavily on our services?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| Published: November 18, 2012

It was only a few years ago that our phones were just so simple, even when the smartphone craze was beginning to ramp up. We had texting and phone calls, and then eventually we got a few applications, and that’s when it all started going downhill. Well, not really. Apps have honestly become a huge aspect to our phones (and tablets), to the point where some reviewers out there would like to dock a device simply because of a lack of apps. So, apps are here, and they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. But, there is a bit of a downside with them, I think, and that’s the fact that we’ve begun to rely on the services more so than ever before.

Which wouldn’t be a bad thing, if it wasn’t technology behind the whole show.

Technology is great when it works, but it can be the most frustrating thing ever when it doesn’t. You know exactly what I’m talking about, too. When things work the way they are supposed to, everything is magical. If you pay attention, you may even be able to see unicorns walking around. That’s how magical it is. But then nothing is perfect, and sometimes things go down.

Like today, for example. It’s been going around all day that Apple’s iMessage hasn’t been functioning to its full potential, and that has apparently caused a lot of people to get very, very upset about it. And that makes sense. We’ve let the services become a part of our lives, and when they don’t work, it can feel like the whole world is crashing down around you. (No, it really isn’t that serious, but reading some of the comments across the Web seem to suggest it is.)

With iMessage being down for “some users,” that should mean you’re able to send a text message after a bit of a delay. There’s a delay because Apple’s back-end is trying to send an iMessage and it can’t, but as long as you have that “send as a text message” turned on in the settings, the intended recipient should still get your message. You just won’t be able to see when it’s Delivered or Read, depending on the other person’s settings.

That’s what I’m talking about, right there. That’s where we’ve become too dependent on the service. You’re still sending a text message, but it’s a special kind of text message. It’s the kind of text message that’s similar to Research In Motion’s BlackBerry Messenger’s message, or Google’s Google Talk messages. It’s supposed to be like instant messaging. And when it doesn’t work, and it isn’t instant and you can’t see if the message has been read, everything is wrong with the world.

Wrong, I tell you!

I’m not sure the last time I heard about RIM’s BlackBerry Messenger going down (I did a quick Google search, and a forum thread back from September of 2011 popped up, so…), and I know that Google Talk has seen some brief outages in the last few months (from people complaining about it in my Twitter feed), but those outages had the same results from entrenched users. We depend on these things to work, because for the most part they work so well more often than not. It’s when they don’t that we really start to raise our voices.

Which is why I’m actually okay with not having something like iMessage or BBM so readily available. Yes, I use messaging services and apps, but I don’t rely on them for conversations with direct friends or family members. I still text message, as crazy as that sounds, and I’m perfectly okay with that, too.

Which apps or services have you completely “installed” into your life, to the point where if they stop functioning correctly, everything grinds to a halt for you? Or are you someone who’s tried to avoid that situation by keeping apps as just a fun thing to play with from time to time? Do you not use services like iMessage or BBM? Or even Google Talk? Let me know, Dear Reader!

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