Use them all.
PRAGUE, Czech Republic- Being a writer is not a job for hermits. That image of Salinger slaving away over a typewriter in his shed in the woods of New Hampshire is misleading. Salinger didn’t talk with many people during his decades of exile, but he was very much in touch. In those days, being in touch meant reading newspapers and magazines and sending letters. Apparently, the dude’s P.O. box would overflow with reading material and letters daily.
Today, that format is obsolete but the methodology is still just as relevant as it was then. To write well, you need to be in touch.
I look at my BlackBerry and I sometimes laugh. It is chock full of chatting apps:
I have WeChat on an iPhone (I don’t trust Chinese software)
Why do I need all of these chatting apps? Because in different parts of the world people use different apps for daily communication. People also have their preferences. Being available on all of them means being easily contactable. It means being able to easily contact others. I need other people’s input, expertise, and perspectives for my stories.
You’re probably going to notice a contradiction here: I don’t have Facebook Messenger, which is probably the most popular chatting app on the planet. While I realize that this cuts into my goal of being easily contactable, I’m going to eat the loss, as I personally can’t bear using that wicked company run by that heinous little twerp any longer. Delete that shit.
Yes, WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, but the way that it’s encrypted is supposedly different, and it’s usefulness to be would make it more difficult to part with … as much as I’d like to. WhatsApp is also acceptable for professional communication — I just interviewed a CEO at a Fortune 500 company the other day through a WhatsApp voice call — whereas FB Messenger is not (Facebook had zero professional value for me).
I like chatting apps as they give me a way to have quick, streamlined communication with a large array of people. And, perhaps most importantly, people respond quickly:
If you send someone an email, the acceptable window for a response is 24 hours. If you send someone a text this number drops to 24 minutes.
If I’m writing a story and I have a quick question, I don’t have 24 hours to spare — I need an an answer immediately.
Likewise, it is a lot easier for someone to send me a tip via a chatting app than it is for them to try to dig up my email.
My favorite messaging app is BBM … but nobody outside of Indonesia uses it. I would say that, realistically, Signal is the most effective — it connects to phone numbers like WhatsApp and can be used as not only a chatting app but an SMS client. Next up on my list is Telegram. WeChat is the standard when in China or when dealing with people with a China connection. It is also by far the most technologically advanced messenging app out there. Then there’s Skype, which is clunky, unintuitive, and expensive — and should soon be rendered obsolete by better functioning and cheaper competitors. At the bottom of my list is Twitter, which isn’t really a chatting app but the DM feature functions as one. Twitter is good for cold calls or to find out about people / organizations that you previously didn’t know about.
Basically, my work revolves around chatting apps. If you want to walk this path, use them all.