Rebecca Vineyard
January 10, 2016 9:17 am

You don’t need a phone number — if you have Facebook Messenger, that is. At least, that seems to be a big theme in the recent letter regarding the new year with Messenger written by David Marcus, Facebook’s VP of Messaging Products.

The “old communication styles are disappearing” says Marcus, who throws some major shade on texting. In a section entitled “The Disappearance of the Phone Number,” he says, “Think about it: SMS and texting came to the fore in the time of flip phones.” We as a culture think of flip phones — which were pretty cool back in the day — as laughable and obsolete (unless, of course, they’re in an Adele video, then they’re an artistic choice). Marcus implies that it’s time to start thinking that way about those methods of communication as well.

Marcus boasts that Messenger allows you to send someone everything from GIFs to voice clips and even your location to others. Messenger even allows you to send money to other users, though something about that seems stranger than sending someone money through something like Venmo.

CNET’s Chris Matyszczyk agrees that the idea of sending money via Facebook messenger is odd, writing, “I must confess I’ve never thought of sending money to people via Facebook. My prehistoric senses wouldn’t quite trust it.”

Matyszczyk also lampoons the manner in which Marcus boasts of Messenger’s abilities, scoffing at the purported importance of being able to send stickers and emojis by addressing the time before: “We were stuck using mouths, vocal chords and words. How primitive we were then.” Verbal communication, whether in person or on the phone, is still very much a part of communication in our society, even if it’s been somewhat supplanted by texting and messaging.

However, Marcus may have a point: According to TIME, communication has indeed evolved (and we’re not even counting smoke signals or carrier pigeons). There was once a time where a pager, essentially an extension of someone’s landline, was advanced technology. Now, few people even have landlines; most of us operate from our mobile devices. Yet, communication and technology have mainly evolved to offer us more options to communicate, not fewer — so calling and texting may not be on their way out just yet.

Marcus’ letter also acknowledges that we’re “all social beings,” and we love to engage with others. It notes that Messenger — which you can actually use even if you don’t have a Facebook account — enables users to customize conversations and personalize them according to personal preference. This personal touch extends to the way businesses engage with customers through the “Businesses on Messenger” feature.

Overall, Marcus maintains, Messenger’s mission is “all about delight.” We suppose, then, if having a phone number is delightful to you, it may not disappear, after all.

(Image via Shutterstock.)

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