Thursday, April 27, 2017

W is for WhatsApp groups

A few months ago, Mom and Dad got on WhatsApp.

I had both the "YAYY!" and "OMG!" reactions at the same time.

"YAYY!" because now they didn't have to wait for any weekly Skype sessions. They could message me anytime.

"OMG!" because now they didn't have to wait for any weekly Skype sessions. They could message me anytime.

This meant that once we were past the daily "What else is happening?" and "Nothing much." messages, the forwards would start.

Last year, I quit my school friends' WhatsApp group because I just couldn't take the forwards -- the 236492365024 jokes a day, the shayari, the "inspirational" quotes, and the daily good morning messages attached to random photos of random babies and random flowers. I was also deeply disturbed to learn from one of my trusted sources that some of the boys apparently had a separate WhatsApp group where any photos sent to the main group were scrutinised in a way that would be considered, erm, unsavoury, by the girls. Ewww. Some of the girls regularly sent selfies to the group, probably in an attempt to show everyone how much hotter they had gotten since our school days (they had, indeed) and knowing about this other boys-only group and their agenda creeped me out so much I made a hasty exit from the group. However, something good did come out of it. It made me put more effort into individually keeping in touch with the school friends that I do want to keep in touch with.

Another kind of WhatsApp message I absolutely detest is from desis in my neighbourhood WhatsApp group who are completely oblivious to the fact that this is a neighbourhood WhatsApp group in Singapore, and even though the majority are desi, there are plenty of non-desis who don't understand or care for your jokes in devnagri, or Happy Saraswati Puja messages or the fact that "UNESCO has crowned the wonderful Modiji with the title of 'best PM ever'". And also the Indian National Anthem as the best anthem ever. And also the Indian flag as the best flag ever. It's all true. After all, UNESCO has said so. UNESCO has nothing better to do in life.

Recently, someone had sent a message alerting parents about "some kind of red candy that kidnappers were using around schools". One of my Caucasian neighbours decided enough was enough and asked point blank, "Is this in Singapore?" The reply came, "No, India."

The group was silent for two days.

Karwa chauth last year was the pits. A group of about 10 women in the group started an animated discussion concerning the moon's whereabouts. They went on and on, and my full sympathies were with my hapless non-Indian neighbours who must have been deeply traumatised to see such sudden and psychotic levels of astronomy in the group. And wondering why these very hungry, very angry women were so hungry and so angry.

Extended family WhatsApp groups have also caused me much grief. I discovered to my horror that some people actually keep track of who complimented the photos sent by them and who didn't, and who congratulated when their kid won some prize in school and who didn't. Gosh, with some 30 people in the group and 389578975943 messages flying across in a day, I don't think I compliment and congratulate every single person! That means I am probably on some people's blacklist already.

So when Mom and Dad got on WhatsApp, I briefed them to the best of my knowledge on how to use it responsibly, causing minimal damage to others' brain cells. When we were in Mauritius, I realised the insane number of forwards, especially videos, both of them were receiving from people. Dad was still okay, but Mom was very keen to "share this wealth of knowledge" with all her sisters, neighbours and friends. I sat down with her and googled to show her how 99.9999999999% of WhatsApp claims are nothing but rubbish. So now she forwards me EVERYTHING she gets and only if I give the green light, she forwards them on. It's painful for me, but at least she spares the world.

I created a family group for my parents, sister and me, and it was hilarious how my parents would send messages to the group and then send the very same messages individually to us. Another briefing was needed to fix this little glitch, and we were all set. They have also realised and gracefully accepted the fact that there is nothing much to say on WhatsApp on a daily basis. And that is perfectly fine and you DO NOT need to fill the silent days with forwards.

I do send lots of our photos on the group though, so that keeps them happy. My sister rarely sends photos. She's just not the kind, and we all know it. One day, I was so thrilled to see a family photo from her. I thought my parents would go over the moon. And just then, my mom replied with a "Only one photo????" GRRRRRR... I was OUTRAGED on behalf of my sister. She lives in the US and must have been sleeping then, but I wasn't ready to let go. I started yelling on WhatsApp itself. "She finally sends a photo and THIS IS ALL YOU HAVE TO SAY????"

When my sister woke up, she still didn't react, but she went a little ballistic around Easter and sent 48 photos of their neighbourhood Easter egg hunt, with only one photo featuring her kids. Mom was livid. "Why are you sending so many photos???" She asked. "Photo bhejo toh problem, na bhejo toh problem." I did a little narad muni act. What drama. Gosh.

Mom still sends me jokes and shayari from time to time. I am hopeful that my stoic silence will one day signal to her to stop it. I once made the mistake of sending a laughing emoji to a joke an acquaintance sent me. Out of nothing but sheer politeness. Now she sends me an average of six jokes a day. She's a really sweet person, and I don't know her well enough to yell at her like I do with others, so I don't know what to do.

And don't even get me started on the health-related forwards. I'm certain I'm considered public enemy #1 in all the groups I'm in, because I immediately challenge any nonsensical health-related forward anyone sends.

Vigorously cough your way out of a serious heart attack. Homeopathy your way out of cancer. Achieve painless and successful suicide by consuming mango along with Coke. Apply raw egg whites to serious burns. Government has issued red alert for three days. Mean temperature will be between 45.1 to 48.5 degrees Celsius. Please drink 6-7 litres of water a day. 

Thanks to me publicly calling them out, now everyone has become a little more cautious when it comes to sending random pieces of health advice on WhatsApp. But it still happens from time to time.

Now I have found my brahmastra. The next time I get anything like that, I'll reply with this photo, which is pretty much the only 100% Science-backed, 100% accurate, 100% reliable health advice I've ever received on WhatsApp.


The Gardener said...

I am a Life Member of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) which is supported by Govt. of India. Ever since, I got this WHATSAPP - Thisandthatsapp - , I have been receiving daily, 34563276 messages, photos and videos on Kings to Cabbage matters from the other members of INTACH, which is a botheration. And next botheration is the process of deleting these. I am also a member of my Bank's Retired Officers' Association, the others members of which, on and off, bombard me with Whatsapp messages. So are my other friends and acquaintances!!!

My patience is being tested:))))))))))))

Is Whatsapp a convenience or an inconvenience which has to borne stoically?

shub said...

I'm laughing a little too hard at that image :D

Bubblegum inherhappyplace said...

I am laughing at your post, the photo and also Uncle's comment.

My Maternal family has a group and out of politeness we two daughters of the family are still in the same group- silently deleting everything they send. The best part is when Masis want us to not get involved they talk in Bangla. (My maternal family is from Calcutta) - Hence, we two daughters can hardly interact much even when we understand what they want to say. Cruel world.

This happens though amidst thousands of forwards in a week.


Ritu Raj said...

EPIC --> After all, UNESCO has said so. UNESCO has nothing better to do in life.

So true !!

Arun said...


So is Whatsapp the model of instant gratification, which makes blog posts TL;DR?

Charan Deep Singh said...

Well the best way to deal is.... Set rules of the group... Only be part of groups where you are admin... And those who break rules, throw them out at their first error.

Sayesha... X, Y and Z sounds difficult. Being a veteran suggest how to go about it.

I wrote on W today, the role i play in my wife's life

read and tell...

Prithi Shetty said...

I quit most groups when I saw it eat up my data in the first 10 days of the month !! Argh !!

Anonymous said...

Hilarious, you should expand this into a book. "Whatsapped: my experiences with India's messaging craze" or something.

Sayesha said...

The Gardener,
I'll tell you what I've already suggested to you some 4398759842758b times. Quit the groups that annoy you!



Ritu Raj,

That'll be the (dooms)day!

Ha I'd already commented on your W post with suggestions. :P

Oh yes! And I didn't even know you could turn off the auto-download function till I ranted to Viv and he showed me!

LOL that will be a gigantic rant-fest!

Argentyne said...

I loooooove this post. I'm part of a local ladies group, and omg, the number of hoax messages I see! The minute I see them though, I get all bristly and want to thwart the evil minds that are secretly laughing at these massages spreading (yeah, me = zealot). After a while, the number of such messages has come down x especially because 80 percent of them used to come from one person, and I repeatedly called out her messages to be fake/hoaxes etc. Then I heard from another friend that she only stopped sending messages in the group I'm in, and still forwards them to all her other groups! Some people!

Jina said...

Haha. I so totally empathize. Not "liking" facebook photos of parents friends photos (which may or may not show up in my timeline) was a problem. While they blame "new generation" kids for all kindsa problems, I am pretty sure they are secretly glad about all this technology that connects and make their lives easier