Each time I write a piece about my trials managing some particular technology, the Luddites get back saying that the solution is so simple…don’t use it…or walk away. I wish it were that simple.
It’s weird. Everyone has his/her individual preferences. Someone is comfortable only with calls, another incessantly texts, a third uses WhatsApp and replies on WhatsApp even when you text, a fourth sends messages only on Facebook IM and a small minority prefers to communicate via LinkedIn and Twitter.
While these can all be managed, it is the Jokesters and Forwarders (JFs) who complicate everything. These are the people who believe it is their God-given moral and inbound duty to forward jokes and inspirational messages to everyone they know at least once if not more times a day, usually with the caveat that if you too don’t read or forward them to others, you are failing in your duty as a good citizen of the world, that you are not a nice person and worse, something bad might happen to you.
In the days of bulletin boards, using 2400 bps modems, it was difficult to avoid JFs, but they were still manageable. With newsgroups, you could just delete these by scanning the headers. With email, it has always been possible to set up filters that divert the messages to a folder that you can access if you want, at leisure, once a week or so or never.
JFs who SMS can be difficult to deal with! I had a colleague who used to send a 6.30 AM message that was supposed to wake people up with a perky inspirational ditty. I had to politely request him to stop and he couldn’t understand why! Luckily since SMSes cost real money, I don’t get more than 1–2 manageable texts a day. JFs are also easy to manage on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, because of the nature of these platforms.
What is slowly spiraling out of control these days though is WhatsApp, which is otherwise an elegant way for colleagues to exchange professional images or videos and for small groups to communicate.
I first joined WhatsApp because a small, close group of friends found it the best way to stay in regular touch. Others were then able to “find” me and soon I started getting messages that would otherwise have been sent as SMSes…these have now gone from one or two a day to about 20–30 a day and in no time I have been added to a bunch of different groups.
Unlike with email, there isn’t a simple way to filter the stuff sent by JFs and unless you open the message or the group, there is no way to know what the message is going to be all about. Then to get to the newest message in a group, which may be the only important one you want to read, you have to first wade through the flood created by the JF junk that often seems never ending. With JFs who “broadcast” individually, I have learnt to delete these messages without opening or reading them.
I don’t mind the occasional joke, especially if it is a new one based on current events, but I can’t handle any more Rajnikant or husband-wife or man-woman jokes and definitely have no use for messages that want me to be a better, kinder, nicer and uplifted human being.
Like with email, I am sure there will soon be a tech solution for WhatsApp JFs as well. But until then…WhatsApp is the new time-sucking monster to be wary about!