Whatsapp groups: The agony and the ecstasy

You get a message “+91………. added you”. Followed by a flurry of welcomes. And then you slowly, very slowly realise what have you gotten into. You mute, you stop it from blinking, but there is no stopping. More or less, everything gets discussed, everything happening around us, in the world that is, in every group! if its a Rajnikant joke, you are doomed. not just the groups, every contact may just send you that. Jokes, videos, election, wildlife, selfies, selfies at meetings, selfies at exotic locations, selfies with famous personalities at airports. Food, roads, signboards, flowers, pets, clothes, after all, all cameras have a phone and have internet and have whatsapp, and pictures speak a thousand words, so why not?

I am currently part of about eight whatsapp groups. I successfully, without guilt, left three.

I believe there were questions, hurt, sentiments expressed. Like when someone leaves the groups am still in (+91…….has left the group messages pops up, followed by: who left? Why? Get her/him back? We are having so much fun?). Sometimes there is also “is she the only one so busy?”

The day begins with “good morning”, a most unreal looking electric blue rose wishing you a wonderful day. A namaste. Or a quote “every day is an experience. This is life…enjoy your day”. Right. We begin as early as sunrise and morning tea. We talk about who likes which tea. Then we discuss when would we have tea together, when is so and so inviting everyone to tea. Followed by smiley faces.

Some of the groups I left (sigh), even though I was advised “just clear the messages, you don’t have to read them all. Stay in the group.” Those were early days of whatsapp grouping and I either felt bad that am not reading and responding, or annoyed, even after muting the group, keeping mobile data off and seeing 42 messages when you switch it on, bothered me. So I left. But looks like that should not have been a big deal. You don’t miss much if you did not read. It’s something like our saas-bahu serials, you can stop watching anytime and when you resume, you would still understand the story. Easy. they are made to accommodate, you see.

A simple statement like “I have a little cold so skipping office today. At home watching cricket match.” Results in “please take care bhai”, “drink ginger tea”, “go see a doctor”. “am praying for you”. And am like, he is well enough to watch the match, ask for the score buddy!

One group that I was excited when it started was the primary school group; we were all 12-13 years of age in that school. Changes happened after that, schools, places, no education, such changes were made and decided mostly after that crucial class seventh since it meant going to another (high) school. Someone started that group. And then the nightmare, I was trying to put faces to names and names to faces! On my defence, we were a class of 60+ students in one section, at least 4 sections and I was only 12 then. I left.

Groups with a purpose. The groups that am still in:

My apartment group, leaking pipes, common facilities, maintenance, parking space all gets discussed. No choice. They may just decide to paint the campus the new 2000 rupees pink, so I better stay in if I don’t want that.

A group that discusses access to organic food/ grocery. All exciting people (some may say eccentric, hippies) each following their passion.

A large group of people who are recipients of a specific fellowship. Very large. Some may know each other if they were together for that fellowship. Most don’t know most. But it’s assumed that the fellowship has tied us together like a multi coloured beaded necklace of the Queen. People are tapped from remote corners and added to the group. Flurry of welcomes everyday. Followed by flurry of thank yous. The purpose is to share ideas and enable each other, the brilliant people, chosen few of the prestigious fellowship. We could together change the world.

One common challenge. To focus on the PURPOSE. Political issues come in, right or wrong or left or centre comes in, views and opinions on what is happiness (or something as challenging as that) and then begins the yes and no. Most of us in these groups do not know each other, at all, and we expect to connect on very difficult or very trivial topics. We don’t even know whether something trivial for one is most challenging for the other or vice versa!

I have been termed class monitor in some of these. Am not proud of it. But I don’t want to exit. I want to stay and listen and contribute. Yes I do.

My post-graduation group. That time when you finished formal education and hopefully got a job after that. Shared hostels, shared food, shared campus, many love life blossomed, many heart breaks, many close friendships. Every now and then someone shares a sexist or racist joke and gets butchered. We never agreed then, we do not agree now. But that’s understood.

Work group, good gossip, some work some general, some debates, plans for movies, restaurants etc. Nobody takes up any serious argument. All contentious topics are posted. You may choose to respond or not.

Few small groups of friends. Either because we did a fellowship together and got to know each other over a period of time, travelling, laughing, walking cooking, planning visits together, discussing the course and found ourselves honest with each other, and have stayed in touch, even without whatsapp.

Another group where we have worked together, typically first jobs. We share the experiences of first job, a common place, shared nostalgia. We have stayed in touch from a time when computers were making their debut, followed by mobile phones, and even though everyone is now scattered all over the world. We would tease and annoy and love and care, the same way!

Whatsapp just happened to happen here!

Let me stop at that, the agony and the ecstasy. And post good night to all those eight groups with the picture of a bright sunrise.

And quickly switch-off the phone 🙂

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