The Tattler

Congratulations are in order. Users can do the un- doable or should I say undo the doable. The long awaited ‘ delete’ option is now available on What’s App. If you have ever sent a message to the wrong person or have mis-phrased a message in a moment of passion and then repented, you too must have prayed for this recourse to revoke. The sad news is that this facility comes with a caveat. You can’t delete a message without leaving a telltale mark. Like a badly erased error it leaves a readable residue ‘ this message was deleted’. A grim reminder to the others that something ‘ delete worthy’ had been conceived and written. I would have ignored this small fallout had I not noticed a long history of snoopy behaviour. The fact is, that in comparison to others, What’s App seems to enjoy being a scandalmonger. So while you can discretely unfriend someone or quietly leave a group on Facebook there is no such freedom here. Exits and expulsions are gleefully announced to all.

8A9867CA-8863-42F5-B4E1-81DCCBBF0B5BBut let me digress from my laments and start where it all started. Like many of my generation I have reluctantly warmed up to the world of electronic messaging. When I was new, a friend suggested I use nonstandard abbreviations and emoticons to sound young and hip. I tried but couldn’t tolerate the look of a misspelt word and worried that a grinning face would not be able to communicate my joy. So like an old hag I continue to type whole words. I have succumbed to its power though, and have surrendered all my free time to it.

While the software was evolving I observed that not all changes could be called improvements. As if the ‘ last seen…..’ option was not intrusive enough, the twin blue check marks that followed helped compound people’s obsessive streak. These tiny ticks set the clock ticking by telling users whether the message has been read at the other end. Casual chitchat is thus turned into legal notice. The ‘ … typing’ information is equally annoying. It fills one with anticipation, specially when it goes on and on. It seems that the responder is trapped in verbosity but when the message reaches, sometimes, it’s just a ‘sure’ or worse a ‘thumbs up’ emoticon. Makes one think, since it couldn’t have taken that long to type four letters, so the message either got lost in transit or was deliberately deleted. The contribution of a slow internet connection notwithstanding, the ‘unsaid’ is bothersome.

Initially being part of a group was hassle free. You just had to turn the notifications off. You were then, free to read, if and when you wanted and respond if you felt like. Those days of careless abandon ended soon enough. In its endeavour to better the application they made it possible to get information about which members have received a post and who have seen it. So by a simple tap people know if you are ignoring them. The only way to escape is not to log in but the suspense of an unread message could kill you, or at least harm you gravely.

Are you on it, when were you last on it, did you receive the message, did you read the message, have you started replying, are you deliberating or being forthright and finally, did you delete a comment after an unguarded outburst? All moves are watched and dutifully reported. It is no longer a leisure activity, something which you can do when you have nothing else to do. It’s too much pressure for casual time pass. And although I assume that these upgradations must be well intended, you know whats up with What’s App … has become too much of a tattler!!

( published in the Hindustan Times on 14/3/2018)


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12 thoughts on “The Tattler

  1. Dr Jatinder Singh says:

    Nice words dr… …keep goinG

    Regards : dr Jatinder Singh
    Vety . Officer

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      Thanks for your appreciation

  2. Anjali Bansal says:

    Haha…Too many tattlers you have faced recently.
    Good one and very prompt.
    ,Thumbs up Dalna chah rahi hun. Transit me kho na jaaye…….

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      Thumbs up toh kho gaya….but thanks for the rest….ha ha too many tattlers indeed!

  3. Neera Gupta says:

    Too good! As expected….

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      Thanks Neera..this means a lot

  4. Dr Shalini Singh says:

    Well written and so very true

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      Thanks Shalu…glad you could relate to it

  5. Sunita Singh says:

    Sufferings of all WhatsApp users described aptly. And nowdays a green dot on your pic tells who all are online.

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      Yes…that too sunita…it’s getting more and more intrusive. Thanks for writing

  6. Dr R P Gupta says:

    Your article in HT is very good, enjoyed, although I had to consult dictionary repeatedly.

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      Ha ha….what goes around comes around….there was a time when you forced me to use the dictionary…thanks for your persistence daddy…you are the best

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