Are you here?
That’s all I want to know. Are you here, reading me? Clicking our links? Viewing our ads, or at least, allowing your browser to load them? Liking or faving or retweeting me? It’s what you want to know when you text your significant other or your child. Are you there? Is everything okay? Yes, yes, I’m here. All good. Okay.
This truth of contemporary communication practice is undeniable, yet we persist in using tools that exceed it. Natural language, even when condensed into txtspeak. The rising popularity of emoji. We often want to communicate, but even more often we simply want to meta-communicate, to possess the knowledge that an individual or group will acknowledge us.
Enter Yo, an app created by Israeli entrepreneur Or Arbel, reportedly in a mere 8 hours time. All it does is send the message “Yo” to an interlocutor. Arbel has raised $1 million in angel investment, a fact that the Internet has responded to with reasonable astonishment. “Not an Onion article,” your friends may already have written in captions on Facebook posts or Twitter links to news of Yo’s yodelers.
It’s stupid. There’s no other word for it. But according to TechCrunch, 50,000 people have sent 4 million Yos since the app was launched on, uhm, April Fool’s Day of this year. But sometimes in stupidity we find a kind of frankness, an honesty. For his part, Arbel has rather overstated the matter. “We like to call it context-based messaging,” he told The New York Times. “You understand by the context what is being said.”