Read receipts are chipping away at my sanity

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| Published: March 11, 2013

When I was first using a BlackBerry device, way back when BlackBerry was Research In Motion and there was a trackwheel, I wasn’t blown away by BlackBerry Messenger. BBM has been one of the major mainstays for the company, and considering it’s still a standalone application and not baked into the standard text messaging app in BlackBerry 10, it’s obvious that isn’t changing. The thing is, I’ve just never bought into it. That probably has a lot to do with the fact that when I was using a BlackBerry device as my main handset, I only knew one other person who was doing the same thing. Using BBM just wasn’t something I did.

Not every day, anyway. When I have used it in the past, I could at least see why people liked it. It was quick, stable (when it was working), and then there’s that one thing that people seemed to absolutely crave back in the day: The read receipt. It was probably the biggest feature for BBM users who weren’t caught up in the Enterprise, and RIM (BlackBerry from here on out) sold it well. It was something they had, and others just didn’t. A feather in their Canadian caps, if you will.

We all know that’s changed, and in multiple ways. You can get read receipts from messages in all sorts of different ways. It wasn’t too long ago now that Apple officially unveiled their own iMessage, which many believed swept the feet right out from under BlackBerry. A nail in the coffin, if you will. But obviously BlackBerry hung around, stuck it out, and now they’re gearing up for their major BlackBerry 10 launch here in the States.

I didn’t pay much attention to read receipts when I used BlackBerry Messenger. Even when I had apps like Kik Messenger, and I used it frequently, the read receipt was never something I actively paid attention to. Why? I really don’t know. There’s not much of a difference between an app created by a developer outside BlackBerry (or Apple for that matter), if it does the same thing as the app developed in-house. If it provides read receipts, why would I pay attention to it now more than before?

I really couldn’t tell you. All I know is that I do. I’m trying to remember a time when I cared so much about someone on the other side of a conversation having read my message or not, and I can’t. But I do now. It’s there, and I look at it more than I should probably care to admit. I check up on the message after I’ve seen that it’s been read. And, even if I don’t look at it, I’m wondering in the back of my head why that person on the other end of the conversation isn’t replying.

It’s gradually chipping away at my sanity. I’m sure of it.

At the start of the week, usually Monday morning, I send a quick message to a friend of mine to set up a weekly breakfast we have at our favorite restaurant. We set it up, and then go about our business. We both have iPhones for these exchanges more often than not (I change phones a lot? Leave me alone, geez!), so iMessage kicks in to run over watch on the conversation.

Last week, when we were in the process of setting up a time for breakfast –it changes frequently due to scheduling—he just stopped talking in the middle of our conversation. At the crux! The most crucial part of the talk, to set up a time, and he just up and disappears. Now, normally this wouldn’t be an issue, because I could just assume that he hadn’t seen the message yet. He’d become distracted, or just left the phone in another room. Whatever.

Now, though, I can see that he had the ability to read my text message, and chose to ignore it! Right? I mean, it’s not completely crazy to assume that if he had time to read the message, he had time to respond. Right? Well, maybe it is. But that’s what I’m talking about! He read it! And now that I know he read it, my anticipation for a reply is through the roof. It only makes it worse that I’m starving, and this particular restaurant is amazing. I want to eat! Answer me, so I can eat!

I’ve got another friend who has always been terrible at text messaging. He’s notorious for never replying to a message. It’s been like that for years. But you know what? Now it’s downright criminal, because I can see that he read my message hours ago, and he’s just too dang busy to reply to me.

I’m seeing a trend.

I should turn off read receipts, but I won’t. Even as I’m writing this and the phone is sitting right next to me, just begging me to go into the settings and make the necessary alterations, I won’t. I like the idea and execution of read receipts. Maybe I don’t remember ever paying any attention to read receipts way back in the day because everyone responded in a timely manner!

Yeah, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Do you have read receipts activated if you use a service that provides that feature? If you don’t, would you like to see that particular option activated in more conversation services, or apps? Do you sometimes find yourself staring at the ‘Read’ after you send a message, just waiting for a reply? Please say yes.

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