Last week I went to lunch for a friend's birthday. It should be noted that the invitation for the birthday was sent via email, to each guest separately, so no replies to all, just the general instructions on where, when and why. It was almost retro in the beauty of its functionality. It was good for stress levels...
As I walked into the birthday party, my gaze locked on one particular friend and I felt the quick rush of anxiety. Instantly I recalled a lingering WhatsApp message that I had failed to reply to… but wait, was it WhatsApp? Or was it Facebook messenger, Instagram direct messaging (and on which account?), a text message or an email, eeeek?! “Hello darling, how are you? I’m so so sorry, I just remembered I owe you a reply! Sorry, so hopeless, blah blah….,” I quickly mumbled, but before I could finish my feeble excuses, she said, “Oh don’t worry hun, I have two sets of friends – those that reply quickly and those that just … don’t!”. Ah. Great. Thanks. Named and shamed. I slunk to my seat with the conviction that I really must up my WhatsApp game. I’ve since come to the conclusion that there is a myriad of ways to communicate with my friends both here and abroad but none of them seems as easy as they appear! Is it me? Or is it that there are just too many apps to manage? We spend so much time trying to locate which app the message came from, replying to the message, and replying again… and I think we would all agree it’s not as effective or enjoyable as a good old fashioned phone call. There appear to be two broad camps of WhatsApp messaging. 1) The keeping in touch with family and friends; and 2) The ‘group’ messaging for an event or purpose. While the former – sharing photos and messaging those we love near and far is always a good idea, the second camp gets tricky. You can easily fall into the WhatsApp trap when a simple phone call or email could have done the trick. Before long down the WhatsApp abyss, there have been 10 messages back and forth to come to the one point. Add a witty line, and some choice emojis and you may have also spent 10 times as long as a phone call. WhatsApp, once the free and easy way to connect while living overseas, has taken over as the main mode of communication for every conceivable reason – there’s a WhatsApp group for everything and everyone. A quick scroll through mine and there is a hot mess of single and group messaging, many that haven’t been attended to (sigh). There are 3 x school class parents groups, boxing class group, the condo mums ‘wine not’ group, countless kids’ birthday party invites, separate birthday party gift groups, 40th birthdays, farewells, gift messages for all, girls dinners, new mums in Singapore group, four separate play dates for the next fortnight, book club, lunch on Monday, the family photo sharing group, a lunch on Thursday, starting a new biz-group, drinks Friday, fundraising for meningitis trust, thinking of buying a dog group, chair restoration chat, and on and on… exhale. Then there are the many ‘Hey Ladies’ chats. You know the ones, as referred to in the ‘Hey Ladies!…’ book, which was reviewed with great hilarity on The High Low. When you receive a group message with a ‘Hey Ladies’ salutation, you know you’re going to be in for a lot of fun – but time and money too, as they usually involve a hen weekend or baby shower and a healthy dose of uber organisation and friendship rivalry by the WhatsApp admin. Now don’t get me wrong, the highly amusing WhatsApp message that lands at 5.30pm during the witching hours gives me such sweet and perfectly timed LOL relief. So it’s not that I don’t love it, it’s just sort of more like a love/hate? Or a proceed with caution/ moderation warning. I’m still in the game – unlike my friend who as ‘class mum’ boycotted WhatsApp all together for the rather less intrusive group email and yet a splinter WhatsApp group emerged anyway. The WhatsApp perks are undoubtedly there, but so too lurk the perils. Take note of the top 3 to beware of:
1. No excuses
If you don’t reply within a reasonable time frame when your sender has seen the two blue ticks on your message, then all excuses are gone. No, it can’t have gone to your junk mail or was delivered to your FB messenger that isn’t linked to your FB account, etc etc. No darling, you received it, and you read it. I can see you read it at precisely: 7.14am.
2. Reply to the correct chat
Be careful to reply to the correct thread! It’s the WhatsApp equivalent to ‘reply to all’ or sending to the wrong email as a result of auto-correctness. A hasty reply to your ‘wine not’ hey ladies group expressing your desire for a 5 pm rosé sent instead to the new school fundraiser group may not give the desired impression. So too, the selfie evidence of your disastrous eyebrow tint meant for your sister but sent by accident to your accountant. Then there come the questions about why you ‘deleted’ your WhatsApp message? And god forbid when you send the details and cost breakdown for the group present to the original birthday party group that includes the birthday girl… before the surprise birthday… like I did recently. It took me too long to work out how to delete that message sadly before I could mitigate the damage.
3. Photos migrate to photo roll
Do remember that any photo or video content shared on WhatsApp automatically adds to your photo feed so do be careful when your seven-year-old borrows your phone to take a photo and stumbles across something that is fairly inappropriate and somewhat difficult to explain (so that’s most of what your friends share on WhatsApp and result in a line of laughing emojis). Hey Ladies! you have been warned. Go forth and connect as there is nothing on earth better, but proceed with caution. I’ll sign off now as I need to go and reply to some messaging to try to repair my rating. Or… perhaps I’ll just remove the app entirely and see if anyone calls, and while I’m at it, thank my lucky stars I don’t have to get to grips with Snapchat… yet.