Messaging Overload

How many chat/messaging systems is too many?


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I still chat to some friends and open source contacts on IRC. I’m in a channel I’ve been in for nearly twenty years continuously with some long time friends I don’t really talk to elsewhere.

Internal company chat is Mattermost, and a couple of other projects use it. I have the Mattermost client open all day every work day, then close it outside those hours.

A bunch of podcasts and other free software groups hang out on Telegram. I have the desktop and mobile clients open, and use this as a primary messaging system with many friends.

My family use WhatsApp and Facebook messenger. I can’t do much about this.

Some other friends of mine use Discord to DM me. They know how to find me in other places, but for some reason Discord is the method of choice.

A friend recently got in touch with me via Slack last week, where I’m in maybe six slacks (down from twenty), of which I’m ‘active’ in one or two, sporadically. I don’t particularly enjoy Slack, so it’s not somewhere I actively go to.

I’m in a couple of communities on Google Hangouts/Meet or whatever it’s called this week.

One open source project I am part of uses RocketChat. I peek into that periodically to catch up, but it’s low traffic, and almost nobody ever directly messages me there.

I’m also on Twitter, where I get the odd direct message (DM) from friends and open source luminaries. Similarly I get the odd DM on Mastodon too.

Recruiters frequently contact me via LinkedIn, and I’ve had the odd - very short - conversation there. But never anything beyond professional employment or sales opportunities tend to popup there.

Nobody in my network uses Signal, Session or Wire to talk to me, but I have them anyway.

I used to have Riot/Matrix/Element or whatever it’s called open, but find the UX a painfully confusing mess, so I actively avoid opening it where possible. People still sometimes DM me there though.

Oh, and I log into ICQ now and then (11317622), for fun, mostly.

I have apps for all of these (except ICQ) on my mobile device, signed in. That’s what, twelve clients or webapps on every machine I use. Some of them (Telegram, WhatsApp, FB) I actually use in anger, the rest almost never for active personal 1:1 communication. It doesn’t bother me much to have clients that I don’t use installed. They get updates, and maybe once in while I need to sign in again.

It all gets a bit wearing though. There’s a cognitive load to having them all available, and checking them. I can’t easily forward messages from one platform to another, nor loop in another person if they’re not on it. It’s a giant mess. I don’t actually know what the solution is, if indeed there can be one. As part of my job I need to be contactable, but I don’t really need to be everywhere.

Maybe I could set my status on some to a url on blog explaining where to find me. Worst case I could delete my accounts in various places, and you’ll have to use your own initiative to find me. I think I’ll sleep on it before I start deleting things, but I’m keen to hear what others have done, in this situation.