We have all been there. WhatsApp gave us an option to chat with multiple people at once (like every other platform ever) and named it a ‘Group’. Very innovative there. I am a part of too many WhatsApp groups, actually there is no real count and I am not sure until a notification pops up. Some of these groups are active day in and day out, some are dormant and have only festival greetings. Some change their name every day that it is hard to follow which group is which, especially if there are different groups for same people for different occasions.
We wish someone could write down particular rules for the groups and make sure people adhere to them. The rules are not about spellings or annoying fonts (yes, fonts). They are much simpler than that. The basics, if you will. This post is one such compilation.
Thou shalt adhere to basic etiquette
I should think this was a given. There is a particular basic etiquette to be followed while texting, and though the groups are mostly informal, this must be followed. If the group consists of colleagues or worse, includes the bosses, it is better to follow the basic texting etiquette including not using profanity, not indulging in shameless self promotion, etcetera.
Thou shalt maintain timings and respect time zones
The second most annoying thing about groups, this one. For groups containing people from different time zones (or even ‘night owls’ from the same time zone, hearing a small twitter of a message constantly is a headache. While some argue on the benefits of the ‘mute’ button and also the ‘show notifications’ check box, it still is rude not to follow the constraints of time zones unless a majority of the group is participating. Even the farthest time zones have a few hours that come under ‘mutually fitting hours’. Use them, people!
Thou shalt not indulge in PDA with any member
For the uninitiated, there is an option called ‘Private Messaging’ or ‘Direct Messaging’ for all the shenanigans. Lovey-dovey messages are meant for these private conversations and not for the groups where there are others who might not be comfortable with that. Much like being in a same room and shouting flirty and affectionate messages to each other across the room with megaphones, this is a very annoying habit. There is a fine line between casual flirting and outright PDA, and this line shall not be crossed. This comes under ‘maintaining decency’.
Thou shalt not make inside jokes
We get it. You all have inside jokes. Everyone does. There are friends groups amongst WhatsApp groups that might share a closer bond, maybe connected by region, cities, languages, or a common sense of humour. It is considered impolite and sometimes disgusting to show off the inside jokes and sly humor. The sense of superiority is misplaced and not quite acceptable. There is nothing special in having an inside joke, and it is not something that has to be paraded in a group. It will be seen as a desperate ploy to make the others demand what joke it is. Most sensible people don’t, however.
Thou shalt not revert to a different language in between
The groups connect people from different walks of life. India as a country has too many languages. Divided by regional languages, the nation is united by English. If the group consists of people who understand the particular language, it is alright to type or record messages in a particular language. If the group consists of people from other regions who do not understand particular languages, it is clearly irritating if a few people resort to a language they know, in what will be seen as a deliberate attempt to form sub groups having inside jokes.
Thou shalt not send ‘If you love your mom…’ forward messages
We all love our mothers. We all show that love to her directly at our respective homes. We are not required to share a WhatsApp forward to different people to show that we love our mother. This is at once insane and absurd. Worse or those messages that come with a warning tagline – ‘Someone so and so… ignored and their mother left them in 48 hours… I am sorry. I need to share coz I luv my mumma’. Honestly. One does wonder if the original perpetrator gets a kick out of killing an imaginary mother. Everyone knows it is not going to happen, but it spreads unease amidst some members, too
Thou shalt not send prayer forwards
Again, obvious. If a group consists of people from different religious beliefs or even atheists and agnostics, sending religious and prayer forwards invoking a particular deity is condemnable behavior. These messages often crop up during examination and appraisal times, and this is one of the reasons why they are forwarded at lightning speed and pollute (yes, pollute) the various mobiles. Equally absurd are the ‘send to five groups and see the magic’ messages. What magic are you going to show? Pop out of my mobile screen and do the Tango Salsa?! Get a life!
Thou shalt not send videos of outrageous sizes
Some of you have unlimited Wi-Fi and it is fun to send videos, often enormous movie clippings via WhatsApp. Unless until requested for, sending such outrageously sized videos (and quickly starting a discussion on them) speaks of an exclusion policy. Agree that there is a specified download option for Data Networks. But still if you are going to end up discussing the media file, chances are that there is a need to download them to participate in the discussion. Populating the group with media files including images and voice recording at an alarming rate is an annoying habit. There is a reason why you guys have a keyboard installed in your phone!
Thou shalt not gang up on one or more members or indulge in the ‘exit’ drama
I have seen this only too many times. The exiting drama is one of the most entertaining events of a group. We all know you are going to come back, we all know that offended act is temporary. So quit the drama. Ganging up on a particular member in the nature of ‘jokes’ is insensitive and uncultured. This is almost always quickly followed by ‘OMG… Has (s)he left? We were all kidding! Takes stuff so seriously’. You didn’t know this when ten of you ganged up on one member?
Thou shalt not communicate using ONLY emoji
This comes last, but should actually come first. Emoji are used for additional emphasis only. Words can never be substituted by the ocher faces. It is absurd to even think so. Just sending a random emoji in reply to a message or even for regular messaging is pointless and confusing. If you have something to say, type it. If you don’t have anything to say, just sit back and watch others talk. Communicating only using emoji is weird and downright confusing.
These ten commandments do not even cover the bare essentials, though. WhatsApp groups are, at once, the most useful and annoying feature of the app. Got any to add?