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The Era of Automatic Messaging Cues
By: Jennifer Stack
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Like it or not, the Era of Automatic Messaging Cues has arrived! The newest Facebook chat feature is a major signifier of the immediacy mandated by the latest generations. The undying urge to know everything at all times about everyone has manifested itself in new automatic and universal messaging cues, which provide no opt-out luxury. The feature allows a friend to see when their sent chat message has been “seen” by the receiver with a corresponding timestamp, eliminating the age-old conundrum of “WHAT IF MY MESSAGE WAS LOST IN CYBER SPACE?!”
 
Inspired by BlackBerry’s BBM read functionality, iPhone has enlisted a similar feature with iMessage (text messages between iPhone users) that notifies via timestamp once a message has been read by the recipient. “Received,” “Read,” and a simple three dots in conjunction symbolically forecasting that your dialogue counterpart is typing away to you.
 
Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on which way you look at it, there is no way to turn any of this functionality off on either the social media platform or the smartphone infrastructure. This immediacy of updates and overpowering knowledge eliminates some of the social cues that run rampant in physical encounters but are lacking from digital communication, but it can leave relationships — both personal and professional — misinterpreted. Certainly customer service emails require lag time to perfect a resolution with consolidated and unified support across multi-disipline departments; likewise, many other forms of communication require some time to create a thorough answer.
 
So why do these Big Brother features exist and to what extent will they expand? Is it pure curiosity of the user in the land of information overload? Do these “…” typing signals provide communication cues that were unable to be expressed preciously in the digital mediums? Only time will tell. Perhaps the future holds an automatic alert for when a Timeline post or private message has been read, in which case marketers will be forced to prepare immediate responses for an array of crisis and mundane situations or face the embarrassment of being caught with out a response for consumers and fans alike.


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About the Author
Jennifer Stack is a Social Media Strategist at a digital advertising agency. She was a 2011 Notable.ca YP Social Media Finalist. International Marketing Communication, MA. International Marketing Strategy, MSc. LinkedIn + Twitter.
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