By Bikram Vohra
People in this world have huge problems. Like walls coming up and houses of worship to build and dirty air to clean and life is not easy these days. Well, I am no exception and I have a unique problem. It is to do with this WhatsApp double tick when you send messages.
There was a time not so long ago when you sent a message of great importance and waited with bated breath (or is it baited? See, got you in a bind there) for it to turn blue. Not from cold or because it is in a depressed mood but because there then is this joyous relief that the message has been seen. Action at last; no one can pretend they didn’t see it.
Of course, nothing is really more annoying than not getting a reply after the patch of blue lights up and you know the recipient has seen the message and it is so unfair and they are not answering now and you feel a trifle foolish. Like that call you make to someone on a very important matter (usually your boss or someone senior) and you have practiced your opening lines and the phone is ringing and you have that prickly sixth sense that the person is staring at it (the instrument, people) and saying to himself, ‘uh oh, no, don’t want to pick this one up’. Amazing how it works but you know instinctively that you are being shovelled to the side and all you can do is wait for the contact to be made one day with one of the three top excuses.
“Yes, I saw you called, Sorry, I was having a bath.”
“My battery had run out.”
“My phone has been stolen.”
All these are fibs of the finest order.
Nobody has a bath at 2:30 in the afternoon. If your phone is charging it still rings and no one has a phone sans power for more than two minutes, if even that. And though theft occurs — come on! — give me another one; you can do better than this. In the realm of mobile phone politics I remember there was a time when folks would not give their mobile numbers, sticking to landlines.
Yes, you recall, secretaries would be horrified at your cheek in asking for a mobile number as in, very sorry, I am not authorised to give the director’s number. Then why does he have a mobile phone if I cannot get his number? And then you sort of graduated cum laude to the higher level when you were privileged to move from the landline to the mobile number, as if being bestowed a PhD. For this concession, you were genuinely grateful.
Then landlines dwindled to nothing and the elusive mobile numbers cascade upon you like that cloudburst last week.
But wait. There has been an unkinder cut and was rammed home to me most powerfully when my doctor friend wasn’t picking up his messages and the grey ticks stayed grey. This worried me because he is on the ball usually. Then I discovered the truth: There is a new option that allows you to read the message but it still stays grey and so you, the sender, think he hasn’t seen it but he has and you don’t know that. Of all the cowardly, horrible, mean-spirited facilities this one takes the cake and the biscuit, too. It is unfair and upsetting and should be banned because now you are in such as quandary.
Do I send a reminder, call the number, worry if the skies have fallen and there is a problem… what’s the use if you don’t know they have seen it, wherein lies the solution.
Can anything get more insidious than this deception.