The Art of Messaging

Messaging in Africa

Definitely an art. You know why? Simply because there are people who don’t know how to do it. Undoubtedly, there are people who don’t actually know that ‘dm’ means direct messaging and that ‘pm’ means private messaging.

Back in the Day…

The honest truth is you’d be amazed at the number of people oblivious to this ubiquitous art. Interestingly, it wasn’t always like this. Remember your SMS days? Do you remember sending letters back in high school? The days before platforms like WhatsApp or Facebook when people would send letters across the country to others? What of the days of the legendary stamp? Legendary because it travelled to places that some people neither saw nor visited their entire life.

I’ll do you one better; talking drums. Now that is old, from the archives of different parts of Africa.  Those were the classic days and I must confess it was by far one of the most ingenious ways of communicating. Bottles were moved by the waves carrying the scripts of loved ones and the emotions of departed souls but using sound and being able to interpret that sound is a unique calling of its own.

Why an Art

I was inspired to write this article because of an incident that occurred on Twitter some time ago. The culprit, Anthony David Weiner; an American former Democratic congressman who represented New York’s 9th congressional district from January 1999 until June 2011. The congressman accidentally shared a picture of his you-know-what-down-there on Twitter for the world to see, immortalizing it in the memories of the people who viewed it and leaving an indelible mark on the social media platform. This grave error was all due to the fact that he didn’t understand the difference between a DM; a direct message and a mere mention or reply on Twitter.

All this could have been avoided if he had decided to look up the difference and know the ideology behind them. He could have saved a whole lot of people the horror of seeing the unfortunate underwear photo.

Breaking this Further Down

For those who think that it doesn’t make sense that anyone wouldn’t know a DM or a PM in this day and age, I’d like to inform you that ignorance is still bliss. Personal message, private message, direct message or personal chat, often abbreviated PM, DM, or PC, are private forms of communication between different members on a given platform. These kinds of messages are only seen and accessible by the users participating in the message.

There are many popular messaging apps on the market today; Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Snapchat, and Skype, to name just a few. These kinds of apps are popular with younger Millennials and Generation Z in particular — almost half of smartphone owners aged 18 to 29 use at least one messaging app. It is not too far fetched to believe that these owners are liable to fall to such an error. One thing we can take from Weiner’s incident is this: don’t be too quick to share an illicit image over social media.

Some people take a lot of things for granted and stuff like this don’t really matter to you until you get yourself in a sticky situation.

Submitted by: Kweku Diaw

Image: Marten Bjork @martenbjork

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