Author’s Note: This was written when my internet died from exactly 1.55pm to 3.30pm on Thursday, 21 May. Please excuse the overuse of hyperboles and exaggeration. There is only so much I can do to keep myself busy when I can’t have Scrubs on in the background. 

It is 2.11pm on a Thursday afternoon and I find myself in the utterly delightful position of working from home with a fucked internet connection. I have zero access to the internet, zero. Yes, I tried turning it off and on again, TYVM. So until I can return to The Grind, I have furiously bashed out some stupid thoughts I have, because I literally cannot do anything else. Not even listen to music. Let us begin.

A while ago Facebook introduced a new feature: removing messages. From the moment you send someone a message on the Facebook Messenger app, you have exactly 10 minutes to change your mind and remove it. I could not – could not – care less about this when Facebook first announced it. I barely blinked when I saw “X removed a message” in chats. But here’s the thing, at exactly the same moment the world went to shit and the Great Lockdown of ’20 started – something switched on in my brain. I don’t know how to really explain this, but I’ll try.

Full-time work – the commuting, the running around, the human interaction – obliterates the mind. The constant churn turns everything else into a low hum. Of course some things break through the hum, resulting in one or two heavy sobs over a Quarter Pounder meal at 2.00am, but hey, I’m only human. The point I’m trying to make here is that the 9-to-5 life feels like you’re underwater. Lockdown is the opposite. Lockdown violently jerks you out of the water without a warning. The hum is no longer. You are suddenly hyper aware of everything because there is very little to actually do in isolation. So this is when I started to pay attention to my friends removing messages. 

Removing Facebook messages is chaotic evil. It is. It really, really is.

I can only think of one genuine reason to use the feature and that’s if you send something stupid after a bender. I totally get the desire to delete your online existence, but Facebook only gives you 10 minutes to realise you fucked up. After that, the only option is to remove the message for you only. Everyone else in the chat can still see it, so what’s the point? By the time you wake up hungover the next morning, the damage is done. Deal with it.

So is it for typos? Surely not. People just do the * thing.

Like:

Are you free tomorwor?

Haha oops tomorrow*

Typos do not warrant the feature.

So maybe you sent something you shouldn’t have and want to delete it. BUT, typing isn’t like talking. Words don’t just slip out onto your screen. You’re thinking, typing, maybe giving it the once over if it’s serious, and then sending. If you pass all four steps then I’m sorry (I’m not), you don’t get to take the message back. It’s done. You sent it. You meant it. No fucking backsies. Which brings me to the next part of this rant: Removing the message makes it worse. Why? Three words: lockscreen notifications, bitch. There’s every chance the person has already seen it. They still get the notification! So then it just looks so suss. 

LIKE THIS.

I made my boyfriend do this, by the way. I’m not just publicly shaming one of my friends here, although you know who you are. But I mean, C’MON. It’s hideous. Those three words – “removed a message” could be hiding anything. And I, an over-thinker, will consider every single possibility. What could you have possibly sent? Why don’t you want me to see it? What are you keeping from me? Did I fuck up? Did you fuck up? What if it’s just a typo? Oh my god, it’s just a typo, isn’t it? It can’t be a typo. What am I supposed to reply to that, though? Does the convo just die in a hole now? They’re absolutely fucking with me. And so on and so forth until the end of time.

So here’s what I think: people who purposely and habitually remove messages enjoy it. I think they enjoy fucking with you, dangling tiny morsels of hot goss or nothing right in front of your face, before snatching it away before you can even taste it. It’s why I think you’re chaotic evil for doing it. It’s why I’ll yell at you through the internet about it.

Honestly, just defriend me – it’ll sting less.