What’s Up Whatsapp?

Photo by Anton on Pexels.com

Circa 2017-2018, I toyed with the idea of deleting Whatsapp and thought I could reduce exposure by having two phones to protect my private line during the evenings and weekends.

Epic fail.

I switched jobs and realized that my new company chiefly “operated” on Whatsapp. I was not a celebrity (still not a celebrity), my mission to escape whatsapp fell apart like a sand castle.

2022

Whatsapp still afflicts my soul like a bad marriage I can’t seem to get a divorce from. It feels like an app that has grown to become an integral part of us – cancer.

To make matters worse, some users make matters worse. They are so controlling of your personal decisions, they might as well inject a chip into your bloodstream so that they can get the per second update they so desire; perhaps, program your undivided attention whenever they want it. A very close relation of these category of these people are those who just call you whenever they desire and harass you for not jumping up to pick the call. I find these people quite fascinating. In fact, I am bewildered by the fact that having used the app for about a decade or more, people still feel they deserve your full attention whenever they see you online. Experience has not taught them that people (including them) are often online to engage multiple persons/groups/issues, and sometimes even online for a length of time to engage just one person/group for some reason that does not afford you the privilege to switch between groups to pay them any attention.

A more recent phenomenon is an increasing number of people (men to be precise) who get so upset about your ‘lack of urgency’ on whatsapp. Their demands:

  1. Have your notifications on with banner.
  2. Have your notifications on with banner and sound.
  3. Remove your privacy status. I must know when you read my messages.
  4. Your phone is always with you, why don’t you respond to my messages as soon as I send them?
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

The never-ending demands are increasingly becoming audacious. These demands are as bold as their penchant for making an argument out of simple conversations and blowing hot in the most unexpected scenarios. Have you ever been in a whatsapp conversation where you were surprised to find out that the other person was having an argument all the while you thought you were in an amiable environment? Yeah, sometimes, it does not dawn on you till the unmistakable snide remarks, scathing innuendos, and sometimes, outright insults fly in your face.

Folks have issues with Facebook. Well, I took out Facebook a while ago, but what I have issues with is Whatsapp. Not necessarily the app, but the users. The app has become the main tool of communication for friends and families, especially relations dispersed all over the world. The app has given birth and vitality to many businesses, bringing value to small businesses by directly connecting buyers to sellers in a digital world at no additional fee. In some instances, the app is a medium of payment. Without mincing words, whatsapp adds value to us. So there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the app ( though I wish they would give private users the ability to remove “online” visibility), but the users have some learning to do.

Photo by Tracy Le Blanc on Pexels.com

There is something to learn from how older people engage on the app – with understanding. Yeah, the people we call “analog” generation seem to have more digital composure than us; understanding the limitations and intrusiveness of technology, they are wiser and more patient.

Placing a premium value on relationships, they understand that the person behind the phone is more important than the words you desire to yell into the screen. They understand that you should practice silence and active listening on Whatsapp, two rare things that hardly happen in chats with younger people.

  1. Practicing Silence: this leaves room for the other person to convey their thoughts as a whole and gives you time to process the message in a way that makes for a wholesome conversation, rather than forcing your thoughts out by responding to an incomplete delivery of thoughts, thus setting the stage for an avoidable inflammatory conversation.
  2. Active Listening: this involves seeking clarification where you perceive ambiguity instead of running along with your assumptions, getting offended, consolidating your anger, and unleashing terror on the other person.

Exposure to technology comes with peculiar challenges. To mitigate this, inventors continually come up with ways to give the user some control over their experience. Sometimes, this allows for customization.

For instance, LinkedIn advises you to accept requests from people you know (we don’t adhere anyway. Ain’t we all trying to ‘level up’ and ‘rise by lifting others’?). Facebook Dating makes a passionate appeal to be mindful of your safety and only meet up with someone you are sure about. Apple lets you know which site/app tracks you and advises you to revoke access. Twitter allows you make your account private and choose to receive messages from anyone, receive message requests, or only receive messages from people you approve. Instagram allows you make your account private, and even create a group of people who would view your story. Matter of fact, if you report an account on instagram, the app ensures that future accounts created by the user cannot follow you. Whatsapp allows you moderate your privacy and control who views your profile and status.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

On Whatsapp, some things are quite reciprocated. If you like your read receipts off like I do, then you cannot see anybody’s read receipts. If your profile picture is restricted to a few people, the setting also applies to you viewing other people’s profile pictures. My Whatsapp settings are pretty restrictive on purpose. In addition to this, I do not update my status, neither do I view status updates. My Whatsapp usage is restricted to calls and messages. I attend to messages when I open them and ensure I do not open a message if I am in no position to respond immediately. On rare occassions, I could ignore messages if I have made it clear to the other person that I do not intend to engage but they continue to engage on their own accord. I acknowledge missed calls and take them when convenient.

If we have learnt anything from the lockdowns, then we have learnt the need to be respectful of relationships, be mindful of personal spaces, and demonstrate maturity and digital familiarity as we navigate a life of increasingly intrusive advancements in technology. My phone has been on vibration and zero notifications for years and no amount of harassments from other netizens will change that. As it stands, I already know the people that I will not allow entry into my metaverse home because their wahala on ordinary Whatsapp is already too much abeg.

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