Published in


The Incessant Obsession Of The Omnipotent Green Dot

From betrayal and anger to togetherness and cheer, the green dot evokes a range of emotions…

Tawni Waters, in her post, My Lurid Romance With A Little Green Dot, talks about her love story with the green dot in such a lucid manner, I could relate to every word in it. It made me realize that the green dot indeed is the stalking tool for our online lives and watching the dot can evoke a range of emotions from betrayal and anger to togetherness and cheer.

I’m talking about the green dot that we now know as a symbol of Facebook Messenger. I’m old enough to have seen it in Jabber, Yahoo! Messenger, Google Talk and a plethora of chat applications before it has come to be so synonymously associated with Facebook Messenger.

Of course, it hasn’t stopped there. Slack has been a victim to the dot for a while now and most recently, LinkedIn has joined this tragic party as well!

At forty-two, I should be beyond the green dot, but I’m not. I experience the entire spectrum of emotions, sometimes all within a span of ten minutes.

When I wake up, the green dots on Slack tell me which members of my team are still online in other parts of the world. It defines the sense of urgency with which I would jump out of bed and get my day started!

Throughout the day, the green dot on my co-founder’s Slack reminds me that he’s awake into the wee hours of his morning, working away. At times, it motivates me to try and catch up and work hard. At times, it upsets me that it is all coming at the expense of health and personal time…

At night, I wait around for all the relevant Slack green dots to get populated so I can talk to my team members before I call it a night.

As a distributed team, we’ve built an influence model around green dots. Luckily for us, we have a loyal, hard working team — so, my relationship with the Slack green dot is largely positive.

A number of organizations end up having toxic relationships with green dots when they don’t appear frequently enough or long enough!

On Facebook, the green dot plays an intense role for the larger population…

Green dots on real friends: It feels like we’re hanging out with real people. That we’re not alone. It makes us want to hang out more.

Green dots on friends we’d like to avoid: Gets us out of there fast! We’d like plausible deniability of having seen those messages…

Green dot on that person we’re secretly in love with: Makes us long for that dot to stick around. Like Tawni, we could watch that dot for hours and feel… satisfied!

Green dots on SOs: Makes us anxious, especially if we don’t get a response fast enough. Is he chatting with someone else? Is she responding to others?!

Green dots on seemingly rich friends: Leads us to compare our pitiful lives with the relaxed and luxurious lives that these friends must obviously be leading, as demonstrated by their copious time on Facebook…

The green dot on Facebook Messenger holds massive manipulative power over our emotions. To the point of dangerous unhealthy stalking and false satisfaction!

A word about the green dot: The green dot is an absolute state. It is binary in nature. We’re either here or not. There is no other state.

LinkedIn’s cute attempt at “available on mobile” with a white dot in the middle of the green dot dilutes the image of the green dot.

Clearly, the green dot has mildly positive and vastly negative implications on people’s lives. So, why can we not eradicate the green dot?

Because of the persuasive power it holds, the green dot gets us to respond faster and feel a sense of togetherness. This is good for the network. If we feel the pressure to respond, we keep going back to the network.

Even when the emotions are negative, we keep going back, hoping for a positive change. So, it’s always good for the network.

The green dot is a manipulative tool that helps networks exude the aura of buzzing, connected communities.

We just shipped a version of UrbanAMA with the green dot. Enjoy it!

If you’ve experienced a green dot emotion, please add a clap or two or fifty 👏!



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Vidya Narayanan

Vidya Narayanan

Building Rizzle (rizzle.tv), the future of video! In past life (@Google, @Qualcomm), I built stuff that you’ve likely used!