I took the bait. I tried the Facebook messenger app like a sucker. Every time you open it, there's a modal dialog telling you to turn on notifications so my phone can always tell me right away when there's a message. But I'm never going to do that. So it'll bug me every time. So I deleted it. I guess this means that I won't get Facebook messages on my phone anymore.
Here's the thing. I alone control my communications. I alone decide what can interrupt me. I alone decide what communications methods can reach me in which ways. Period. I decide when to see if I have new email, the red badge in the app icon does not.
There is only one way to reach me that interrupts me (my cell, by voice or text) and I have control over who has that number, and how I respond.
This thing where a communications method asserts control over how and when it reaches you is inviting unneeded chaos and pain. It's basically saying that anyone, at any time, for any reason can throw whatever they want into your stream of thought and work. That is the best way to be sure you cannot get meaningful work done, it devalues important communication, and if you have work that requires such communication (I'm looking at you, email) it means that your wage work extends far past your salaried time. Which is, of course, what capitalism requires to devalue labor and create surplus.
Facebook has insinuated itself into lives and made itself seem necessary. For pictures of my friends' children alone, I would find it difficult to quit completely. But after establishing its legitimate value, Facebook now attempts to force habit change and supplant SMS and email, which it does by imposing a mode of communication reflective of a toxic labor structure.
I'd hate to delete my Facebook app as well, but I will do that before I allow that mode of communication to enter my life.
(addendum, Sept 2014: everything is fine, just use the mobile web version.)
(addendum 2, June 2016); Facebook will now be disabling messages on the mobile web version. Yeah. Nope.)