Posted March 27, 2017on:
WhatsApp groups: Bane or boon? It depends how you use them.
A basic Google search will reveal the many sites that suggest how to be civil in a WhatsApp chat group. I weigh in with recommendations from an educator’s point of view.
- Don’t send ten messages when one will do.
- Refrain from providing resources or starting discussions that are off-topic.
- Send a private message to one person instead of sending to all in a group, especially when the topic is not relevant to the rest.
Respect boundaries of time and space.
- If you start a group, establish and enforce communication window periods. As supportive as a group space might be, we also need to rest and spend time with loved ones.
- Avoid over sharing unnecessary details. TMI is like PDA; less is more.
Don’t send large photos or video files.
- We do not all have the same tolerance, bandwidth, data plan, or storage space for large files.
- Do send links from reputable and secure cloud-based sites like Google Drive or Dropbox instead.
Include context in replies.
- You are inside your own head whereas others might not understand to whom and to what you are referring.
- Long-press on a message to reply with context.
Don’t use too many emojis if you want to be understood clearly or taken seriously.
- Text is easy to misinterpret; emoji even more so. WhatsApp messages tend to be concise, so it is critical to be clear.
- This is particularly important if the WhatsApp group comprises of individuals from different backgrounds and cultures.
Check your spelling and grammar.
- This is particularly important when you are included in a professional group or if you represent an organisation.
- This is not about following someone else’s standards; it is about showing what yours are.
Don’t be an ass.
- If you are, pretend not to be one. Be polite. Say please and thank you.
- Consider how you might say something in person, then dial it back a notch or two. The missing social cues make this necessary.
- If others do not reciprocate, you can mute the group or leave it.
This is not an exhaustive list. It is an easy one I compiled by comparing my experiences in WhatsApp with my son’s and asking him what his recommendations might be.
I was a bit surprised by how much our thoughts overlapped. But I was not that surprised because human connection without civility — WhatsApp etiquette in this case — is something even kids value.