My family has a WhatsApp group, it’s basically my mum, siblings, and I (no spouses). Sometimes I wake up to notifications that read like this:
Mum: *Broadcast message*
COVID19 IS CAUSED BY MEAT!! STOP EATING MEAT!! TOMORROW IS THE END OF THE WORLD. (Okay, I exaggerate, but you get my point.)
*Short silence as we’re all waiting for someone else to break the news*
Brother: Mum, this isn’t true, it’s false info.
Mum: Oh really, Lilian forwarded it to me o, she said I should share the news, hmm God help us.
Brother: It’s not true.
Outside of my WhatsApp group, sometimes it’s my mother-in-law who’s gone into full panic mode based on a broadcast message. When she gets into that mood, it’s really hard to convince her the information is false regardless of what my husband and I tell her.
In a way, I have kind of just resigned to the fact that people will always believe and share sensational news. Even when many of them are subsequently confirmed to be untrue. Yet, one the other hand, I still wonder how some of these messages come about. Who starts them, who is the first person to share them and how come the most sensational updates are found on WhatsApp? Lol.
To be honest, this applies to many social media platforms beyond Whatsapp. We rarely check sources or do our own investigation no matter how small before we click the share button. It’s not even just an African aunty/mother problem. I’ve been guilty of this in my own way as well.
Whatsapp is a great tool for communication, but it’s downright an amusement park sometimes, especially for someone like me who is on a lot of groups. I have tried to curb my involvement by setting my Whatsapp settings to ‘send me an Invite request’ whenever a person wants to add me to a group. That way, I can choose to join or not.
I’ve never understood why someone would just create a group and start adding people without prior notice or speaking to them about it first. It’s just proper etiquette to do so. And on the flip side, if you do end up joining the group, please take note of the rules or find out if there are any rules in the first place and adhere to them to avoid being a nuisance. Don’t spam the group with constant forwards and avoid having one-on-one conversations on there, that’s why you have your personal chatbox. 🙂
Also, don’t send work messages on WhatsApp. Some may find it a bit of a hassle to start an official, work or business conversation on WhatsApp then have to move it to their work emails. I would advise you to do so. The lines can get a bit blurred on this one but formal documents and sensitive work information shouldn’t be passed back on forth on WhatsApp. It’s just ethical to keep that to official modes of communication.
Like I said earlier, WhatsApp is great for communication and bonding(online). If I’m being honest, I prefer it to phone calls (introvert probs lol.) Also, I’m part of some great communities on WhatsApp that have kept me sane and really felt like family, especially during the lockdown season.
So I guess what I’m saying is that we should find a way to make WhatApp broadcasts and messaging more purposeful. Not every-time 5G and drink salt. Unless of course you verify the source before sharing.