How to deal with the family WhatsApp group?

Satyakam Ray

Technology has made the gap between extended family members a little bit narrow by introducing us to WhatsApp. This short article is all about the social coherence of the extended family WhatsApp group.

The burgeoning family intimacy and urge to connect socially generally lead to creating a great extended family WhatsApp group. Usually, any uncle or aunt leads the way in this great reunion of souls by voluntarily taking the admin role. The rest of the members think of a moral duty to join the group anyway or face the derision and dismay of elders for eternity.

How does the group function?

The modus operandi of the esteemed group starts with the joining of all the essential/head members (parents from each family) and then their immediate offspring and senior citizens like grandma or grandpa. The previously unknown cousins meet in the group like the long-forgotten friends who had separated at the fair (typically in Bollywood movies!). The love blossoms for a while, and the usual social anxiety issue comes. The conversation lingers mainly in formal, semi-formal, or informal, colloquial language, depending on the relationship. For example, if cousins interact, they use informal language among themselves. But in a group chat, one has to behave; otherwise, have to face the wrath of morally superior elders.

Usual sharing of content like links to videos, audio, and any pdfs is done by the admin members or 2-3 maximum active members of the group who feel their top-most priority to inform what’s happening around the world. How the drinking of kadha will ensure a corona-free happy-happy vibe or how some dress will ward off the evil ogling peasants – this type of video is shared by the senior citizens of the group. The middle-aged group gets busy with political discussion, expected Modi-Nehru stuff, and subsequent blame-game. The younger ones are left alone to ponder over their presence in the group and given ample time to rethink why they joined the group in the first place. 

A birthday celebration is the most necessary aspect of any family WhatsApp group. Suppose any person has his centenary celebration or any young one is getting their introduction to the adult voting age. In that scenario, it’s mandatory to drop a message of happy birthday referred to that person in the group; it doesn’t matter if you despise the person or not on talking terms with him. Because if you don’t do the obligatory conveying of immense love, you will be referred to as someone having attitude issues. The same tactics are being followed in the anniversary celebration: anyone buying a flat or car or being promoted or topped any exam. That person’s pic is immediately adorned in the group icon to show others how to lead life! Other mortals are left to ruin in their self-misery of not achieving anything worthwhile!

Many unverified forwarded messages do the rounds in the family group chats. Elders also believe in this crap most of the time and form their opinion on the subjects instantly. It’s the job of the younger population really to counter fake posts with fact-checking and letting others know the truth. But many don’t do the honor and go with the flow of ignorance. 

Some pointers for a well-behaved social interaction in the group-

  • Don’t share any fake forwarded messages. Do the fact-check before posting anything.
  • If anybody is sharing pictures of any social function, consider minimizing the number of photos so that others won’t be disturbed.
  • Stop sending good morning or good night messages! (Aren’t they irritating?)
  • If other members are not contributing or actively participating in the group video chat session, it becomes necessary to reconsider the option of video calling.
  • Don’t make the group chat a medium to show how wealthy, educated, or intelligent you are. 
  • Don’t make rumors about anyone in the group, and stop animated discussions concerning it.
  • Avoid sharing any sensitive pic/videos/audio.
  • Don’t share personal stuff in a group chat session.
  • In case of miscommunication among the group members over any post or chat, then better to discuss the subject one-on amicably over the phone. Don’t waste others’ time by accusations- counteraccusations in the group chat.
  • Suppose anybody is bored with the group and wants to leave it altogether; informing the admin before leaving it is better. Otherwise, you can mute the conversation, check the messages once a week, and move on.

These golden rules will enable anyone to survive in the socially connected family WhatsApp group. The responsibility for privacy lies in the hand of the members actively chatting in the group.


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