Due to recent surge in communication revolution, things are really changing rapidly. We thought Face Book has made a great revolution in the way we communicate with each other; by the time we started assimilating these changes, in came WhatsApp which again is a game changer! Now what next? Only time will tell. But these rapid changes have kept us gasping to catch up, “how to use them”. Some of issues that come up are funny and others are of serious nature.
Humans started communicating with each other by spoken language, signal language when there was a language barrier. See how technology is changing this. Now on Skype, I can talk to someone in Spain in English, he can opt to listen to Spanish translation, speak in Spanish and I can hear in English, no sign language needed!! Then there were smoke signals and Shivaji Maharaj declaring safe passage with Gun shots in Pavan Khind. Then there were written message sent through personal messengers or even Doves, which probably were prelude to courier services. Who imagined that courier business will suddenly get a big boost with the advent of Flipkarts & Amazons of this world, though most of it is used for non-message related activity?
Human race has evolved mannerisms and etiquettes, when we speak with each other. Since spoken word is being used for a long time, mannerisms and etiquettes have matured. With these new mediums, we are struggling for correct mannerisms and etiquettes & gestures (though gestures are replaced by Smylies.) Let us first look at Facebook. Facebook calls every contact we have as “friend”. Probably we really start thinking that all are our real life friends. I will give you an example. Once while traveling back from Delhi to Pune, I met a gentleman on the flight. We had a couple of minutes chat, exchanged our business cards and then said goodbye on landing. Next day I received a friend request from him. I accepted it and that is about it. Once in a year maybe we just comment on each other’s posts. Both he and I are very clear that we don’t get into something personal. How our interaction in the flight would have gone forward pre FB days. It would have probably ended after the goodbyes at the end of flight. So FB is definitely very useful if used correctly. But we are yet to define what is incorrect and what is correct.
Many people share their personal things on Facebook like family photographs, their new car, a life changing event and also step by step journey details if they are travelling. I am sitting in so and so business lounge on so and so airport. It’s a “goaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaal” comment has a lot of relevance, according to some people. Why does a person think that this information is relevant to his “friends”? Will even his brother be interested in knowing, in which lounge he is sitting in! Frankly no. Then why do people share? Is it just because a tool is available? What is correct I don’t know! An example of a family who are fiercely private. They have a two year old child. They never put anything private on FB including photos. A friend of theirs put this family’s photo along with child’s photo on FB, caption my friend so and so with their daughter! Our friend was furious. What right does one have to share someone else’s private photograph? This according to me is definitely not correct.
WhatsApp is another ballgame. In Facebook whatever you do it is about you. Maybe some comments on someone’s postings, some such interaction. One to one interaction on WhatsApp is like FB messenger. But in WhatsApp, groups are sprouting at a very high rate. It is these groups that are tough to negotiate. Mannerisms and etiquettes for a group are very difficult to decide. A group is formed for a specific purpose, hopefully. There are close family groups, there are extended family groups, friends group, school friends group, college friends group, professional college friends group, office friends group, office group for business purpose and so on.
Close family group could be first family living in different parts of the world. They share almost everything which is fine but there is no point in someone during his/her day time sending a “what a lovely morning” message to the group. Others in different time zone are sleeping and the cell light will blink with the message!! When I joined a recently formed extended family group, on first couple of days there were “good morning” India or England or USA or whatever messages followed by “good night” blah blah messages. There were 20 such messages on first day and kept on increasing; and there are about 35/40 members in the group. I suggested if such messages are sent every day, by all, then there will be 70/80 clutter messages daily! I was unanimously declared guilty and freedom of speech was invoked! Then in all groups, length of some messages are equal to a couple written pages. Have a heart! We are using cell phone for WhatsApp and not a laptop!
Most interesting are the friends group. “Friends” means freedom and freedom means, do anything say anything! This appears to be the definition of friends on WhatsApp. Why do friends form a group? To keep in touch, to share small things as well as big things, pull each other’s legs and having a good time in general. But it seems that many people think that there is a license to write or share anything and everything, amongst friends. When the group size becomes large, things become a bit tricky. Best thing to do in such a case, is to avoid controversial subjects like religion, politics and maybe porn. Some people are not comfortable to even receive porn messages (maybe publicly) I know a person who sends a couple of photographs of Sunrise, with timings, every day! This person was hospitalized for some time and kept on sending a few Selfies, with Nurses, every day, once he got well! A person sends a new religious thought, about 20 lines, every day. This makes person like me very uncomfortable as I am not a religious person. Another thing observed in young generation, in Selfies people make crooked or funny faces, what can be the reason? Some people manage to drown you with deluge of “forwards”, a new term. Maybe WhatsApp gives some sort of certificate to people per group, who send maximum messages per day! I am amazed with people who send such forwards to groups; in most cases these “forwards” are not even read by those who send them! Reasons given for not reading before sending can be “Did not have time to read before forwarding!!” Forwarding becomes an addiction to some people. This is an ever increasing list of issues which are sometime funny and sometime not so funny!
We also see proliferation of hoax messages and messages about new medical treatments. Why even highly educated people fall for such messages! Then there are people who have time to create a message say on Bajairao Mastani film song. (Which then of course goes into forward mode) People create messages which are “For Modi or Against Modi”! How do they find time to create such long messages is what I always wonder.
Friends why not give a basic thought to the actions we take. Is your personal information worth sharing with the whole world? Sometimes people share stage by stage details of their family travels. It is known that anything in soft format can be hacked. Hackers would know that you are travelling and can go and rob your homes. Your personal photos especially of kids can lead to some ransom issues. Unknown people can judge your life style and take their call. I am not over reacting but such cases have happened. Some of the actions may not have such nasty consequences but why bore people with something they are not interested in. Why share something which even you have not read. Why bore people in groups with information about some very specific subject of your interest e g “Ants behaviour in summer” or some such thing. Find people who are interested in Ants behaviour and discuss with them. But then don’t share “how to prepare snake delicacies” in that same group!! I have observed that these people are not in large numbers in any group. Groups over a period decide on their rules and admins try to apply them; least one could do is not to fight with the admin when he/she tries to regulate things! So long before I sign off let me share with you “Differences in behaviour of white mice, in Siberia, in summer and winter”; oh sorry I am in the wrong group!