The WhatsApp Flood of “JFs”

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!


  • In Marathi an adage goes “ati thite maathi” means when things exceed its brief e.g.alcohol,drugs,smoking,excess eating,too much intimacy with relatives or friends or colleagues etc are bound to hit back on the individual.As you know Mobole/iPad/Smartphones/WhatsApp are different ways for lilling time for young and the old who do have enough spare time.Even e-mail has become a curse as people do not want one to one talk.I am afraid time is not too far when the litterates will forget their own signature.Everything on e-mail,SMS,Bluetooth,Skype etc.Even Technology has reached a point of noturn where people will forget basics.

  • C V Easwaran wrote:

    Yes – this is indeed becoming an unnecessary flood. Today I recd one canvassing for NaMo from a business contact. When I told me that I object to his using my details for non-business, his response was “Sorry – we r only promoting modi bze we want some change”. I responded “There r better ways to promote. And why assume everybody is a NaMo fan!!”

    Bhavin – if ever you find a way out pls do put it up in your post in future.

  • Great article Bhavin. Agree with you.

  • P. Venkatraman wrote:

    Even worse is folks do not have a clue on the importance of archival / retrieval of messages. Or the urgency / immediacy of the medium being used.

    Whatsapp that provides no categorisation / archival / search features and is often used for messages that have a long term value.

    Technology is at the hands of everyone, but very few know how to use it appropriately.

    Overuse and misuse abounds

  • M R Sundaram wrote:

    I know, it is particularly annoying when people exploit your religious bent with forwards pronouncing curse and calamity if we don’t forward their messages. I read and skipped a few messages. Once I know the sender to be persistent, I just delete all further mails even without opening them!
    Whatsapp………most mishandled facility 🙂

  • Anand Desai wrote:

    Bhavin. Well written.. Now I too in a small way admit being a JFS at times. However selectively .
    Now its come to a point that in case I am travelling on work or take a two day break from being a JFS I get msgs saying “Hey what’s wrong? Keep them coming” 🙁
    After reading this article I would surely imbibe a sensible pattern … Thanks Friend.

  • Yes this is the latest bane of technology. I was so fed up of What’s App that I deleted my account and moved on but then Business circles too started on What’s App and so had to go back. Have muted 90% of the groups as I know that they are only time wasters.

  • Chitra Kannan wrote:

    Heartily endorse….I try to be net savvy/technology savvy etc….BBM/Whats APP….silliest of msgs keep floating …Send to 7 people – u vl get good tidings n such stuff….Worst r the images – do not want to c, keep deleting such stuff….Hope there is some APP by which can filter unwanted stuff…

  • Dr mona Badani wrote:

    Deleting what’s app or exiting a group is really not a good option. My friends know that I go to what app once a day so non urgent mess sages come there. For urgent messages they call/ SMS. This works out fine fr me n them

  • […] of you may remem­ber the piece I wrote in Octo­ber about What­sApp being an out of con­trol mon­ster because of the joke­sters who flood […]

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