If I could ban one question ever being asked of me again it would be: ‘Are you on WhatsApp?’
I don’t know how many times I’ve answered this in the negative, 57,983 times at least, but the question just never stops being asked.
Nobody wants to use even a fraction of a penny of the almost limitless text and call capacity in their perfectly affordable phone packages to send a text any more. What they want is totally free, completely limitless blathering capacity. Consequently, everything has a WhatsApp group attached to it.
Every activity I take part in, every hobby, every social group I belong to, now comes with its own WhatsApp group. The effect of this is that the hobby or social gathering never ends. The idea is you go to the yoga lesson, or to the stables to ride your horse, and afterwards it just doesn’t stop.
Everyone involved goes on and on talking about it – pinging, pinging, pinging on their blasted phones for hours on end, day and night.
The horse WhatsApp groups are stir-fry crazy because horse-owners nowadays are mostly women who can’t shut up in person, never mind on phones. Long after you have had your ride and gone home, they are pinging their opinions about where you left your shavings fork.
I won’t go on this infernal WhatsApp, as I say. I have never had WhatsApp on my phone and I intend never to, because I have seen the havoc it causes on my friends’ phones and on the builder boyfriend’s. While I relax in the evening after leaving the stables, he does battle with mad women pinging on about who has borrowed their shovel and why there is poo in their wheelbarrow.
He has left and deleted numerous of these groups but everywhere we go there are yet more groups demanding to be joined. And because he has downloaded WhatsApp, he has to join whatever group we need to join to function in the world.
It’s not just hobbies and clubs. It’s individuals too. You can’t hold a conversation with anyone without them concluding it by informing you they will now WhatsApp you. And their intention is all too clear. This conversation is never going to end. They want you on their WhatsApp, available to torment night and day with free messages full of pictures of their cats and their cooking and an old motorbike their husband’s selling, and every other kind of invasive, inane nonsense that they wouldn’t dare broach with you to your face, nor waste even a millisecond-sized portion of their phone package minutes on.
The fact they want to send all these pointless messages completely free shows you what they think of them. They’re nonsense. Superfluous. Frippery.
Every day I utter the sentence: ‘I’m not on WhatsApp.’ Or to be more forceful: ‘I don’t DO WhatsApp!’ And the other person gets all shirty and asks me why. If I feel generous I say: ‘Because I’m stupid and I can’t download apps.’ Or else I inform them my eyesight is so bad I can’t see my screen, which is increasingly true.
But if they persist, I give them the two real reasons why. I tell them I don’t want a load of people I barely know having a conversation on my phone all day long, pinging me with their pointless, irrelevant opinions about everything from missing dogs to what time yoga should be changed to in order to allow them more time to get their horrible children into bed.
Go away! I’m not interested! If it’s not something important enough to telephone me about then don’t bother me with it!
Why do people want to endlessly discuss everything now? They want to discuss all possible options, ad infinitum. I want to discuss two options tops, taking two short text messages to do so. Anything more complicated and it requires a phone conversation, using one’s voice to speak. Remember that?
And then I tell them the other reason I don’t do WhatsApp. Because I don’t believe anything is for free. There is always a price. If something seems too free to be true, it probably is.
If you look into it you find out this: WhatsApp makes money from WhatsApp for Business and WhatsApp Pay. But it has also said it is bringing in ‘tools that allow you to use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses and organizations that you want to hear from.
‘And by connecting your phone number with Facebook’s systems, Facebook can offer better friend suggestions and show you more relevant ads if you have an account with them.’
So if you’re asking me what’s up with WhatsApp, the answer is I can’t possibly know, until it goes wrong, and neither can you, and there’s the problem.