WhatsApp has been proven to be the most popular means of communication among all age groups in Brunei. As long as there’s Internet connection, messages either audio or video can be sent or received at your own convenience.
Group chats are mostly used to keep in touch with groups of people like your family or coworkers. With group chats, messages, photos, and videos can be shared with up to 256 people at once. Each group chat serves its own purpose – be it for work, hobby, school and others.
And during the COVID situation, WhatsApp has been the main source of communication in terms of relaying information, news and updates – some more reliable than the others.
Personally, I’m in eight different family group chats, 10 related to work and 11 that ties me to my kids’ school activities. Other group chats revolve around friends during my school, college and university days, friends from former workplace and some that have been dormant for quite a while.
I guess it is safe to say that one person can have up to more than 10 group chats on their phone. The ability to keep up with each and every one of these group chats would depend on how committed that person is to its purpose. And mind you, there are certain social rules and etiquettes one has to abide by and you will also come across interesting personalities in every group chat.
Some of the noticeable ones include the ‘greeter’. This person would never fail to send a good morning message every single day along with inspirational or religious quotes to start your day. My late uncle was a very active ‘greeter’ in one of my family group chats and after his death, everyone felt the loss especially those who were always looking forward to his daily texts.
Birthdays are a big occasion when it comes to group chats. One person would send the first birthday text and others will follow, usually through the copy-and-text method. WhatsApp etiquette number one: always remember your first birthday greeter so that you can return the favour on their special day.
The ‘sharer’ is another common participant in every group chat. They would send a photo of what they have for breakfast, lunch and dinner – maybe some snacks in between – not forgetting what they bought, photo of their cat, just about anything and everything that they think the world should know of. The busybodies would be intrigued but others might say they are just blatantly showing off. Sometimes it is always best to assume that not everyone is privileged to be able to dine at fancy restaurants three times a day.
The ‘super-spreader’ is also popular in every group chat. This person would send messages, photos or videos without verifying the legitimacy of the source.
Always wanting to be the first to share, this type of person in a group chat can be a nuisance when what is shared creates unnecessary panic. The best way to deal with a ‘super-spreader’ is to just simply ignore the messages.
Have you encountered the over-emoji user? This person would add all sorts of emoji as part of their text. It can be cute at certain times but also annoying if it gets overboard. Emojis may be a language by themselves, however, they cannot overtake text.
The use of emojis should be limited and one should eliminate them altogether from serious or formal conversations. Emojis add to emotion of your words for sure, but don’t substitute them for the words. Always ensure you are using the right emoji to correspond to your text. My domestic helper once sent the laughing-with-tears emoji to share her father had just passed away thinking it depicts a crying face.
The lurker is the safest of them all. They have never sent a text since being added to the group and they tend to just sit back and read all messages in silent mode which would make you wonder on their existence in the group chat.
When it comes to work group chats, there is always that fine grey line in keeping it professional and personal. That is probably the reason why a second group chat without the bosses is also required. It can get annoying when you have that one co-worker who would send unneccessary texts such as a photo of them having lunch or sharing a silly joke in a work group chat.
There is always the situation when you are added to a group chat unbeknownst to your interest or willingness to be part of it. According to metro.co.uk, if you don’t want to be in a WhatsApp group anymore, it’s not compulsory to stay.
Once the specific reason for that group is no longer relevant, you are absolutely allowed to excuse yourself. You can just leave the group on your own accord and if you think everyone deserves an explanation on the reason for your departure, just leave a brief note or if you want drama, just exit the group, knowing that WhatsApp will notify everyone in the chat that you have left. Another option is to notify the group’s admin personally on your intention to leave the group.
The introduction of WhatsApp stickers have revolutionised the way we express our thoughts and feelings to support our text. The best way to acquire them are through group chats. I’m always amazed how these people manage to get these fancy stickers in the first place. I will save the ones I like especially the common generic ‘Assalamualaikum/Waalaikumsalam’ greeting that I can use and share every day.
Be mindful not to send the wrong kind of sticker though. Once, I accidentally sent a sticker of Mr Bean giving a thumbs-up sign to someone notifying a former colleague’s death in one of my group chats. I am forever in debt to the person who introduced the ‘Delete For Everyone’ feature as I managed to remove the inappropriate sticker just in time before everyone realised my silly blunder.
Another popular feature quite recently introduced is the WhatsApp status. This allows you to share text, photo, video, and GIF updates that disappear after 24 hours, and that is also end-to-end encrypted. To send and receive status updates to and from your contacts, you and your contacts must have each other’s phone numbers saved in your phones’ address books.
It is always interesting to find out what your contacts have been up to through their WhatsApp status. I find it amusing to know that some people use their WhatsApp status as a proof in point to their colleagues or their bosses in showing that they are really at the clinic for a medical appointment or at their kid’s school for a parent-teacher meeting.
Sometimes I wonder how we managed to go on with our daily life without relying too much on WhatsApp. The Gen X have done it before but honestly, it’s quite hard to keep up with the fast pace of technology we are experiencing today.
In the meantime, let us all just be thankful that WhatsApp has connected everyone in our community especially during the second wave. Thanks to video calls, we never lost touch with our distant loved ones.
One thing is sure: WhatsApp is here to stay for a long time.