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  • Raghav Sand

WhatsApp University and the Postmaster Syndrome

Every day we get a dump of data on our smartphones. Some of it is useful and essential, but the bulk of it is garbage. At the time of internet’s inception, it was designed as a read-only platform. Later, with passage of time, tools and services enabled everyone to create and post content on the internet. This democratization of information gave a voice to people who were left behind due to lack of resources.

Have we done justice to the potential of internet? Has the internet brought us closer or has it left us more divided than ever before? There are no easy and one-dimensional answers to many such questions. Discourse about cultural issues is a sensitive topic. No one person can or should steer the direction of culture. There are times when you would not want to participate in an activity, but peer pressure stops you from being yourself. One such thing is WhatsApp and the urge to forward messages without evaluating the correctness and appropriateness of the contents.

Information and Wisdom

Humanity is drowning in information, while starving for wisdom: E. O. Wilson. The internet was imagined as a borderless medium for communication. To be honest, it has partly been able to deliver on the promise. Bulk of the information shared on WhatsApp is about politics, religion and entertainment. These three topics garner unparallel attention. In the midst of all the noise, it takes impartial judgement to segregate information and misinformation. You are not an offender if you choose not to forward a message.

Individuals and institutions with ulterior motives could not have asked for a better platform to circulate propaganda. For some people, their religion is in danger, while for others it is the constitution of the country that needs saving. Believers of a particular political thought use sophisticated methods to target ‘like-minded’ individuals. Nowadays, anyone who desires to run for public office, does not care about common good. By making it a ‘us versus them’ contest, mindless micro-management in elections is sowing the seeds of social unrest. What about “We the People”?

Isolation is Not the Answer

Human beings are social creatures. Lack of in person interactions in the last two years has made even the non-believers acknowledge this timeless fact. If you are ‘always connected’ and as a result feel overwhelmed, you may decide to take a break from WhatsApp university. Thoughtful isolation is a great way to detox. We seem to forget that, there is no obligation to respond to every message instantly. On some occasions you may decide to not respond at all. If you feel a sense of compulsion to respond or forward a message, then it is time to pause. Try to find new ways to pursue peace and prosperity.

Inexpensive Doesn’t Mean Free

When something is free, then you are the product. WhatsApp is carelessly used because it is a free application. All you need is an internet-enabled device and a basic internet connection. Awareness about one’s surroundings and family are good to an extent. Long messages and calls are intrusion of privacy. At any point of time, someone you know will have ample time on their hand. And, as WhatsApp is free, there is no need to be judicious with resources. Loss of reasoning and objectivity are common if we stretch any conversation beyond merits.

Anxiety is common among WhatsApp addicts. Constantly checking the phone for a new message, blue tick for sent messages and someone sending long messages at midnight – these are sample events which can make you unnecessarily worried and emotionally drained. How many people you know drink in moderation, or can control the urge to smoke or are healthy gamblers? These activities are categorised as addictions for a reason. It is one thing to justify these activities and completely another thing if you talk to the family members of a compulsive smoker/drinker/gambler.

Socially Responsible

People who know me or think they know me, feel that I voice my opinion about certain activities and substances, only because I personally don’t use them. Their assessment is not exactly right or wrong, as there are many more layers to the story. When something has the capability to cause large scale destruction, it demands proactive speaking out. As a responsible person, I feel it is important to point out something we are doing wrong as a society. I am always open to suggestion and constructive feedback. By telling you to indulge less in certain activities, my intention is not to become a preacher or social reformer. You and your well-being are important for more people you can imagine. Unplug for a while and find the unknown.

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