Another dot in the blogosphere?

Posts Tagged ‘whatsapp

…the Facebook algorithms. This includes its adopted children Instagram and WhatsApp.

Or starve them at least by not posting, sharing, liking, etc. 

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It is not content that you are creating or propagating. It is data that you are creating. You and your behaviours are the data.

In the hands of responsible entities, such data might be handled with care. Facebook is irresponsible and greedy, and it craves user data. The recent tracking limitations in iOS 14.3 are useless if we do not limit ourselves.

Despite my profile on WhatsApp saying I’m not deaf, I’m ignoring you http://bit.ly/whatsapptiquette, I still get messages.

Given WhatsApp aggressive move to favour commercial interests over individuals, I have added another line: Reach me on Telegram @drashleytan.

How many are going to ignore that message out of ignorance?

 
This is a PSA for anyone who relies on WhatsApp: It is a poisoned chalice.

Both apps can do a lot of good. But they are owned by a parent company that does not have good track record on how it uses our data and on stopping disinformation.

I stopped sharing on Facebook in 2015. I avoided using WhatsApp when it was bought by Facebook. If we are judged by the company we keep, I avoid these “friendly” apps because they are insidiously toxic.

I need to be on WhatsApp, I do not want to be on it. This is the message that greets anyone who is interested in visiting my profile there.

My WhatsApp profile.

Likewise, I need to be on Facebook, but I do not want to be. My last post there was actually an automated one from my blog in 2015.

My last FB post was in 2015.

I use WhatsApp and Facebook only because so many people are already on it. I rely on WhatsApp for the occasional chat and I use Facebook like a passport to access a few linked services.

Both platforms are too noisy for my liking. But I have tamed WhatsApp to the point that it no longer harasses me and have starved Facebook of information. I do this because I am information literate — I don’t just know things, I do something about it.

If there is a leak of my information or a break in my sanity, I cannot just blame the tools. I would not blame an open window or entry; I shut the blinds and lock the door.

The best decision I made late last year was to reduce my use of WhatsApp.

I did not delete the app. Instead I stopped it from notifying me of incoming messages all the time. I did this because most of the notifications were not important (or they were from the self important).
 

 
What if there was an important message for me? If it was important enough, the sender would know how to contact me, i.e., not via WhatsApp.

This means that I need to pull myself to use it instead of being pushed to use it. I took back control. I use the app; it does not use me.

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FOMO is short for the fear of missing out. It is one of the reasons why Facebook will weather the big and small storms that comes its way.

People want to stay in the know, but there is a line between staying informed and unreasonable obsession. FOMO helps you cross that line.

Recently I had to resist FOMO. An acquaintance of mine used WhatsApp to reconnect people I used to know almost 30 years ago.

The platform was a bad choice — I got pop-up notifications immediately unless I muted the channel. Even after muting, the app icon indicated how many messages I missed. WhatsApp is designed to create and feed FOMO by push (notification) and pull (unread messages) factors.

Some of the adults in this group behaved no better than children. They did not set expectations, shared information and photos indiscriminately, and created more noise than signal.

I did not add signal or noise. I followed my golden rule of observing and listening first to evaluate the worth of joining that community. I was tempted to jump in when my name was mentioned and to correct stories based on flawed memories. But I did not take the bait.

The more I observed, the more I realised that the medium was affecting the messages and amplifying inconsiderate behaviours. The group did not practice WhatsApp-tiquette. I hinted gently and indirectly by making that URL part of my WhatsApp profile blurb:

I’m not deaf, I’m ignoring you http://bit.ly/whatsapptiquette

What pushed me to leave the group entirely was how it would generate over a hundred messages over a short period. It was so distracting that I missed an important message from an individual that mattered.

I value quality interaction over quantity. I value my time and sanity. I overcame WhatsApp FOMO by prioritising what was important to me. I practised JOMO — the joy of missing out.

  
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 spam.

  • 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 with civility — WhatsApp etiquette in this case — is something even kids value.

I have two stories to tell about WhatsApp.

The first is how I knew that my wife had “arrived” in her iPhone journey. Not too long ago, my wife was a Nokia-only and then a Palm-only fan. Apples were either fruits or or a company that made good mini computers.

Early last year, she bought WhatsApp and bugged me to jump on the bandwagon. I had not heard of it and downloaded it only when it went free for short time.

Our roles had changed. She was recommending apps to the recommender of apps. How quickly things change!

The second story is a link between a recent report in Digital Life (28 Dec 2011), Young people are choosing WhatsApp over SMS, and a colleague who went away on holiday.

The gist of the DL article is that people seem to be moving away from SMS to WhatsApp because the latter is cheaper and more feature-rich. They SMS only to communicate with those on older phones.

My colleague had planned a holiday and tried to make arrangements online. When that failed, she contacted the other party with WhatsApp and sealed the deal.

Not everyone is on WhatsApp, of course, but this is an indicator of how quickly things can change. The DL article cited these statistics:

  • Worldwide 16 billion SMS messages are sent each day; WhatsApp was already handling over 1 billion messages daily
  • SMS use in Singapore grew by 41% in 2009, 19% in 2010 and only 6% in 2011

Most people would say that the writing is on the wall. It is only a matter of time when apps like WhatsApp take over.

People might also see that the future of things like commerce, government services and education is mobile. Well, definitely in commerce, half-heartedly on government and reluctantly in education.

How quickly might things change?


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