Readers’ Forum: On the Power of Color in Text Messages


You are at the library plugging in a religious newspaper at midnight. Someone cute walks up and hands you a note with their number on it. You wait several days before reaching out (you don’t want to appear too agitated). Finally, you are going to send them a message only to realize that their messages appear as an unsettling green rather than a comfortable blue. The initial excitement is muffled and you question your decision to reach out. As a columnist for New York Post recently wrote, “Forget the dreamy ocean-colored eyes. For young daters, the color of text messages is all that matters. “

I’m not trying to point fingers. Not everyone with an iPhone is guilty of such an attitude. My intention is to shed light on a disturbing trend that I noticed throughout my time at BYU. This trend is not limited exclusively to dating, but rather permeates all different types of social interactions. Every day, people are excluded from group chats, unable to video chat with their friends, or not seen as part of the group because they have a different phone than everyone else. A BYU student I spoke with said he felt a strength in / out of the group so strongly in his freshman year that he ended up switching phones.

To be fair, part of it just stems from the convenience. There is no doubt that features between iPhone users are not replicated with users outside of this ecosystem. Photos and videos shared outside of iMessage are significantly lower in quality, Find my Friends is only available for iPhone, and fun features like read receipts or Memojis are sadly missing when the texts are green. However, viable and platform neutral alternatives such as Facebook Messenger, Google Messages or WhatsApp do exist and offer an experience similar to iMessage. Google Maps offers the same functionality as Find My Friends for anyone with a smartphone. These free and inclusive solutions are rarely used. As a result, when we go to find our friends or want to video chat, it will only be presented to other iPhone users as an option.

This element of exclusivity associated with owning an iPhone is not an unintended consequence. Apple knows the power of a message color scheme to create a group / non-group impression for its users. Just take a look at this screenshot from an old ad campaign:

While a business trying to differentiate itself from the competition is perfectly normal and not necessarily harmful, sometimes Apple’s cult sequel can turn into something more than just a preference for a particular platform. According to Wikipedia, ethnocentrism is defined as “the belief that one’s own culture is superior to all others and is the standard by which all other cultures should be measured”. When Apple users idealize their platform to the point that all other options are judged poor and users on other platforms are seen as cheated, they engage in a kind of ethnocentrism. Ironically, the idea that iPhones are the norm is a mistake when viewed from a global perspective. According to Statista, in 2019, Android held an 87% share of the global market, with iOS only holding 13%.

Apart from the “tampering” power of iPhones over non-iPhone users, one of the most disturbing aspects of this phenomenon is that owning an iPhone or other Apple products is often correlated with social status. -economic, which allows it to become a kind of class marker distinction. That’s not surprising when you consider the ridiculously inflated prices of some Apple products like the $ 700 Mac Pro Wheels kit or the $ 550 AirPods Max. Apple knows that its products function as a status symbol and uses this knowledge to increase its revenue. Unfortunately, this status symbol ostracizes those with lower socio-economic status. I perform in a free medical clinic that provides care to people who cannot afford health insurance. Patients often pull out their phones to jot down doctor’s instructions or to take pictures of something to look for at the pharmacy. In over a year of working in the clinic, I can’t remember a single patient who pulled out an iPhone. Think about the people in your life who use iPhones and who don’t. Can you notice some kind of trend?

Sometimes the world can feel very divided. As a company, we are currently navigating issues related to race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender and different political ideologies or religious affiliations. These problems are complex, nuanced, and offer no immediate and easy solution. Nevertheless, we are responsible for wrestling with them in the manner of Christ. A recent update to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints general manual provided this requirement (emphasis added). “The Church calls everyone to abandon attitudes and actions of prejudice towards any group or individual. Church members should lead by example in promoting respect for all of God’s children. Members follow the Savior’s command to love others (see Matthew 22: 35–39). They strive to be people of good will towards all, reject prejudices of any kind. This includes prejudices based on race, ethnicity, nationality, tribe, sex, age, disability, socio-economic status, religious or non-religious beliefs. orientation.

How can we expect to live up to such a goal if we insist on dividing ourselves by something as insignificant as the color of messages on a smartphone? We can do better. I’m not asking you to give up iMessage. I’m not trying to slander anyone who owns an iPhone. Rather, my intention is to encourage each of us to introspect and seek out trivial ways that we are trying to separate ourselves from our siblings. It could be the color of someone’s message or the contents of their Spotify packaging. We can split up depending on the jersey we wear at a sporting event or the color of the shirt we wear at church. If we can figure out how to overcome these insignificant differences, we will be better prepared and able to tackle the serious issues that try to divide us.

PS If you are an iPhone user and want to know how to send messages even to non-iPhone users on your laptop, check this outside.

If you can’t text non-iPhone users when you don’t have cell service, just turn on Wi-Fi calling which will allow you to send SMS via Wi-Fi.

If you are an Android user who is tired of being excluded from group chats, learn how to set up iMessage on a Android. Disclaimer: It’s a bit complicated and probably not worth it.

Matt Allen
Cedar City, Utah

Printable version, PDF and email

About Author

Leave A Reply