Meet my WhatsApp alter-ego. Hope you like it

By Disha Dadlani

Guys, it’s time to dissolve the group. I’m exiting and so can you. Bye bye,” my dad posted, rather explained recently to the members of a WhatsApp group before leaving it. I laughed at his choice of words and turned to find my mum — who was also part of this group — typing: “I don’t see any sense in leaving the group and I find that rude. But since we all are, I’ll be rude and exit too.”

Often, I find myself overthinking my WhatsApp decisions more than my life decisions. Sometimes I think a text through over and over again. “I won’t end my message with just a full stop. That’s not polite; I’ll add a smiley, maybe two.” The reaction I get is either an eyeroll or an exasperated “does it even make a difference?”. It does, I argue. And, despite the effort behind each text and emoji, it’s still easy to be considered rude on the platform without even intending to.

Imagine this: you’re sitting with your friends, 10 members have been divided into groups of three, dabbling between five conversations; none of which interest you. That’s your cue to leave. You thank the host and excuse yourself. That was simple, right? Now, imagine doing the same on WhatsApp. You announce your exit and sometimes even feel the need to justify it. Once you’ve left, the group members begin messaging each other. “Do you think he was upset about something? or “Hey, @admin, why don’t you add him back and we’ll find out?”

I know of people who think it’s extremely curt to type ‘K’ in chats. I’ll admit I’m the type that can’t tolerate ‘K’s too. With emojis, the risk of being perceived as impolite is higher. In my opinion, the thumbs-up is the ‘K’ of emojis. I always steer clear from it. In fact, I remember schooling my mum on the same when I caught her replying to elaborate messages from a friend with just an occasional thumbs-up emoji. “I don’t like you on WhatsApp,” I told her off.

I believe I have equipped myself with the right kind of WhatsApp etiquette. For one, I don’t leave messages unattended nor do I send messages at an ungodly hour, unless urgent. My real-life behaviour is a far cry from my WhatsApp behaviour; on WhatsApp, I can’t leave a message hanging. I don’t want to give the person the blue tick treatment. At home, however, I’m quick to turn a deaf ear to mum and dad’s instructions.

Have you ever been added as a new member in an existing WhatsApp group? Perhaps you’ve shifted to a new building, a new school, or joined a new dance class — of course, you need a WhatsApp group for it all. You’re welcomed warmly by each group member, while some enthusiastic ones may go the extra mile and shower you with virtual flowers through unnecessary images that load on to your phone’s memory. Let’s be a little real, WhatsApp?

When it comes to smileys, each one conveys a different emotion — excitement, sarcasm, mischief, embarrassment, relief, cheer, tears of joy, shyness, satisfaction, love, enthusiasm, confused, sad, angry and astonished. When we smile at someone in person, we don’t think it through. However, while conversing online, you wade through more than 30 smiley emojis to finally choose the perfect one. And yet, you never know if you’ve pleased the person or left him or her upset or maybe even confused. Phew, for a platform that’s supposed to make lives convenient, this one seems to be causing a lot of stress.

While we’re at it, my go-to emoji is the balloon. Unlike the heart emoji, you can send it to everyone and unlike most other emojis, it’s relaxed and doesn’t demand a reply. Try it and you’ll know.

There are different kinds of WhatsApp personalities. Disha is all of them, combined.

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