WAH! YOU NEVER REPLY MY WHATSAPP!
Setting a few ground rules for group chats can help tremendously
DIN is an old friend who has plenty of time on his hands. Retired some years ago, Din is an Internet surfer. He does this diligently. Each time he comes across a gem, he would share it with friends.
His sharing method is via WhatsApp, a smartphone application that has made communication easier and faster.
How many text messages do you receive every day — 20, 50? How relevant are they? Do you spend a lot of time reading them?
Today, more than one billion people in more than 180 countries use WhatsApp to stay in touch with friends and family, according to published reports.
WhatsApp also offers free phone calls, as long as you have Internet connection. With such benefits, it would be rather foolish to ignore WhatsApp.
With such advantages come the headache of managing the messages that keep coming to our phones. If you are a member of a WhatsApp group chat, then your headache doubles, or triples.
Let me give you an example. I belong to several WhatsApp groups. A WhatsApp group has an administrator, who is usually the person who forms and manages the group. I’m a member of 20 WhatsApp groups and the administrator of two family chats.
Not all text messages are important. Many are jokes and greetings of the day. Family WhatsApp groups are useful in sharing the latest family updates. For example, a grand aunty of mine died last Wednesday and we used the family chat to inform everyone.
Some groups spread very serious current news, either sourced from the media or direct from the newsmakers. At times, members argue heatedly based on the subjects introduced.
The debates can sometimes turn ugly and very unproductive, not to mention stressful and disturbing.
It is not unknown for members to leave a group, ending friendships stretching many years. Religious and political debates are the ones that tend to be divisive.
Samad, a group administrator for a WhatsApp chat comprising 83 members, has the daily headache of managing his gang. He tries to get members to adhere to several rules.
One of the most irritating things is the copy-and-paste syndrome. You get the same message several times a day, posted by members using the copy-andpaste method.
Samad always reminds his members not to exceed two “copy and paste” messages a day. Despite the frequent reminders, members sometimes get carried away and post several such messages a day, much to the annoyance of the others.
Not all members are active, mind you. Some never send a single message. They don’t contribute at all to any conversation. I wonder why they are included in the first place.
They should either leave the group or the administrator should just expel them.
I regard the ex-Utusan Malaysia WhatsApp group as one that has clear objectives and is useful to its members. Its administrator is Johan, who sets very clear guidelines and objectives.
In adhering to the rules and in keeping with the objectives of the group’s formation, no one has left it and their meaningful friendship has brought benefits for everyone.
This is what Johan has to say: “I put simple rules in place. They keep everyone sane and sober. Thank God, we are all good friends. As we age, friendship is more important than insisting one is right and all the others are wrong.
“Life is short bro! Let’s keep it simple and meaningful. My first rule is to remind everyone that this is a shared group, aimed at creating bonds among friends. We share our agony and ecstasy here.
“We don’t have political and religious debates. Long sermons and controversial issues of halal and haram are not suitable in this group.
“We share our good times and bad times here, especially among colleagues and ex-colleagues. This is our digital space to share some nostalgic good and bad moments together.
“This is also the place where we share news about families. We use the space as our secretariat to organise trips to visit sick friends and those in difficulties.”
That’s a sensible set of rules, don’t you think? Maybe other groups can pick a point or two.
With such advantages come the headache of managing the messages that keep coming to our phones. If you are a member of a WhatsApp group chat, then your headache doubles, or triple.