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Old 18th March 2017, 12:26   #1
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Default WhatsApp and its effect on our lives

Irrespective of our educational, social, professional and financial positions, if there is one mobile application that has changed our life drastically, it has to be the WhatsApp Messenger. Founded in 2009 by two ex-employees of Yahoo, it was taken over by Facebook in 2014.

The birth and growth of WhatsApp coincided with the smartphone revolution that happened in the first half of the current decade in India. WhatsApp has transformed the usually talkative common Indian man into a mobile addict. It is usually the first thing that most smartphone users check after getting up in the morning and the last thing before going to bed (I know Bhpians are an exception ). It has reduced chances of conversation between co-passengers on a bus/train, helped us tide over the boredom of loneliness, kindled romances and killed marriages. WhatsApp has also proven handy in disturbing and bringing back social harmony, spreading fear, falsehoods and awareness too.

The ability to communicate with a large number of participants in one go has re-ignited lost friendships, helped plan events and enabled birds of same feather to metaphorically flock together. In spite of several attempts to charge a nominal fee, WhatsApp still remains a free service. The ability to send and receive texts, photos, music, videos and more recently the provision to make voice and video calls to even international numbers has only added to its popularity.

WhatsApp is freely available for users of all smartphones irrespective of their operating systems. With the help of certain third party applications, it can even be installed on home computers and laptops. The icing on the cake is that the data transfer happens in an encrypted form, thus ensuring safety and privacy.

The sight of a husband and a wife sitting on the two corners of a couch (supposedly) watching television, while simultaneously WhatsApping their respective near and dear ones is a common site in urban households. Relatives, friends, special friends, colleagues are all connected to each other by the means of this application.

A recent survey by Bengaluru based NIMHANS reveals that WhatApp and Facebook combined together deprive an average individual of upto 100 minutes of his daily quota of sleep. Also startling are the following revelations:

1. Most people usually check their phones four times even after going to bed.
2. 3% of the surveyed participants preferred internet over work, food, hygiene, sleep and even family.
3. 42% of the respondents chose to be online, even at the risk of ignoring work.

TOI reports that:

Quote:
The application keeping most people up was WhatsApp (58.5%),...This was followed by Facebook usage (32.6%).
This increased dependence on internet enabled mobile phones and other devices has resulted in what psychologists call Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS), also referred to as social jet lag.

Source: http://epaperbeta.timesofindia.com/A...18032017016027

Now, can we try to look into our own tryst with WhatsApp by listing ways in which the advent of this application has changed our lives?

Disclaimer: Not affiliated to WhatsApp, except as a user. Addicted? May be .
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Old 20th March 2017, 09:19   #2
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Default Re: WhatsApp and its effect on our lives

Has definitely affected the lives of telecom companies by taking away SMS revenue .

Over & above the obvious advantages, WhatsApp helps me keep in touch with family abroad at no cost (free calling).

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Originally Posted by dailydriver View Post
The ability to communicate with a large number of participants in one go has re-ignited lost friendships, helped plan events and enabled birds of same feather to metaphorically flock together.
As a rule, I am not part of any WhatsApp groups which keep uploading forwards & jokes all day. It's strictly a communication tool for me.

Quote:
With the help of certain third party applications, it can even be installed on home computers and laptops.
https://web.whatsapp.com/ directly from WhatsApp.

Quote:
A recent survey by Bengaluru based NIMHANS
I'm not a phone addict at all. Just as well, considering the time spent staring at a laptop screen all day at work.
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Old 20th March 2017, 10:08   #3
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Default Re: WhatsApp and its effect on our lives

Between GTO and dailydriver, they've covered a lot of points, so I might not be adding much here. However, a few points that do come to mind are listed below.

Positives
  • Democratization of speech - a fancy way of saying "free messaging", which makes it easier to conduct non-interruptive communication (unlike SMSes which are charged, and unlike calls which are interruptive).
  • Enabling links with personal groups - classmates, etc. This is particularly neat in bringing people back in touch.
  • Enabling links with "non-personal" groups - such as all occupants in an apartment, etc.
  • The above 2 points always had other alternatives, but they usually needed a computer - such as email mailing lists, instant messenger groups, etc. WhatsApp brought this to both feature phones and smartphones - basically in our pockets, not on our computers.
  • Enabling ad-hoc groups - a bunch of BHPians planning a weekend meet? Create an ad-hoc group for those interested, to give a common place to chat.
  • Rich media sharing - sharing photos, videos, contacts, map locations, documents - this tends to tick off the most commonly-used media that people want to share. By allowing this all from one app, it prevents juggling.
  • Easier number portability: You can change numbers and easily update WhatsApp.

Negatives
  • Democratization of speech - yes, I know I listed this as a positive too. Unfortunately, free messaging also means that there's no entry barrier to messaging (no per message cost to discourage spam). Its one thing to receive forwards from a group of like-minded friends, its another thing to be getting forwards in a group set up for ostensibly serious purposes (e.g. "Good morning" messages in an apartment owners' group). And don't get me started on the various fake messages going around (e.g. "Child kidnapped from xyz city")
  • Addiction - Don't shoot the messenger (pun very much intended ). Yes, WhatsApp might make it easier to be addicted, but its often a symptom, not a problem in itself (e.g. lonely people use FB more indicates its loneliness that's the problem, not Facebook).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samurai View Post
Loss of EruditionFb/whatsapp are not designed for sharing knowledge that can be looked up later. These are platforms where the attention span is really short.
Very good point.

A pet-peeve of mine (unrelated to WhatsApp, so OT on this thread) is why people continue to talk in SMS slang ("y u talk lyk dis?") when pretty much every phone has built-in spell check, spelling recommendations, swipe keyboards, etc. Its not just the loss of erudition (longer term impact), its the loss of basic spelling and grammar (which grates every time I see such a message).

Last edited by arunphilip : 20th March 2017 at 10:38.
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Old 20th March 2017, 10:32   #4
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Default Re: WhatsApp and its effect on our lives

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Originally Posted by arunphilip View Post
Negatives
You left out the most important negative, at least for me.

Loss of Erudition: In my 12 years on Team-BHP, I have seen lots of knowledgeable members who used to make high quality contribution, via long articles, engage in long technical debates, that can be looked up even now. Many of them are now exclusively on whatsapp or FB, reposting jokes and reacting to others. Fb/whatsapp are not designed for sharing knowledge that can be looked up later. These are platforms where the attention span is really short. Also, in these platforms, 99% people are content consumers and only 1% are content creators. This is a great loss in my opinion.

While I do spend some time in FB/whatsapp, Team-BHP still takes more than 80% of my social media quota, for this reason. I don't want to lose my ability to create content.
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Old 20th March 2017, 10:37   #5
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Default Re: WhatsApp and its effect on our lives

There is just tooooo many forwards on WA groups, and hence I have stayed away from it.

There are times when I want to send / receive a pic and the other person prefers WA. I do get a little stuck in such situations, but still dont want to get stuck in the other 99.5% forwards.

Funny thing - last couple of days wife was trying to call our maid to get her to come at a specific time. The maid wasnt pickup the calls. So wife sent a WA message, the maid responded

( note: the girl is doing her final year BCom while she supports herself by working. So the girl using WA is not about vanity. )
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Old 20th March 2017, 10:54   #6
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Default Re: WhatsApp and its effect on our lives

After realizing WA is a mere waste of time & energy, I still keep WA STRICTLY for 2 reasons...
1. Stay in touch with friends with very limited forwards using discretion
2. Communication

#2 aided me a lot in my recent transaction for selling my WagonR as well as buying a SCross. Like the proverb goes, anything used within limits is always good. Even excessive intake of amruth is also is poisonous for health
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Old 20th March 2017, 11:09   #7
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Default Re: WhatsApp and its effect on our lives

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samurai View Post
...... I don't want to lose my ability to create content.
Extremely well put. What burgers and pizzas did to a big community, rendering them obese and overweight, these mobile apps are doing to the brains and creativity. Make it blunt and less agile by the day. While it is now including senior citizens (my 70 year old mom is now on WhatsApp) to definite advantage, a huge chunk of the population is turning it to a vice.

Inappropriate actions enacted, shot on video and circulated on the fly, has also reached dangerous proportions. With it, chances of embarassing privacy breach by accidental forwards! Very alarming.
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Old 20th March 2017, 11:14   #8
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Default Re: WhatsApp and its effect on our lives

Such is the addiction that I've recently installed 2 applications to monitor the number of times I unlock my phone and the time I spend on using it. Yes, I've an app on my phone to measure how much I use my phone!

Jokes apart, the apps have been quite useful in analyzing how I can cut down my usage and be more present in the moment!
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Old 20th March 2017, 11:17   #9
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Default Re: WhatsApp and its effect on our lives

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Originally Posted by lapis_lazuli View Post
What burgers and pizzas did to a big community, rendering them obese and overweight, these mobile apps are doing to the brains and creativity.
Very nice comparison!

In some ways, Samurai's and your comments tie back to what dailydriver has also referred to: Social media tools like WhatsApp can end up behaving like a drug, when abused - the craving for a regular fix (check), withdrawal symptoms when denied it, impact on (mental) health, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lapis_lazuli View Post
Inappropriate actions enacted, shot on video and circulated on the fly, has also reached dangerous proportions. With it, chances of embarassing privacy breach by accidental forwards! Very alarming.
I don't have anything to add here, apart from the fact that after reading this I saw your profile pic, and Rastapopoulos's expression made me think he'd sent an accidental forward!
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Old 20th March 2017, 11:50   #10
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Default Re: WhatsApp and its effect on our lives

These have certainly helped keeping in touch with friends residing in different countries much easier. There is no way you could call up everyone and the apps help to talk about common things, post photos etc.

I think it depends on people on how much addicted they are. I deactivated my Facebook account since there was too much to see ! I am in only about 4 groups of very close friends who I also meet every week.

I have also seen various articles been written on how phones (and free messaging apps) are causing temptations of wrong kind leading to relationship issues !
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Old 20th March 2017, 12:02   #11
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My 2 cents on this

Pros -

1. Definitely helps keep in touch with people
2. Information is easily sent to the intended people within a jiffy

Cons -

1. Thanks to whatsapp, screen time now is a lot more than before. People have started developing severe neck pain issues related to the spine and the number of cases is on the rise with each passing day.

2. Rumours are spread more easily than information using this app. People hardly take the trouble to verify the authenticity of the message before forwarding be it a job opportunity for handicapped people in a particular company or anyone needing blood or kids being kidnapped or someone's death. When I was new to whatsapp I did believe some of them but as time passed I have made sure not to forward any such messages and if at all I feel the inkling to do so, I verify it first and then send it across

3. Many times the same message is sent again and again by multiple people in multiple groups. Adding to it, messages which you received a year back would again come back as if new and that is because of what I mentioned in point no. 2

4. Whatsapp has considerably reduced the attention span people have to read something. I may not have scientific data to back this up at present but I have seen many people say that the messages are too long and they won't be reading it. Reasons could be many ranging from the font to the screen size to the busy schedules but the fact is that attention span is actually reducing

5. The urge to check the phone even if there are no messages is being termed as a disorder if I am not wrong and the credit is being given to messaging apps like whatsapp

I personally feel that it has more cons than pros but then it has kind of become a necessary evil these days
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Old 20th March 2017, 13:10   #12
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Default Re: WhatsApp and its effect on our lives

Whatsapp is a great multi-media messaging app --- and that is how I use it.

I do not join groups. Oh, one group, and that only has about half a dozen members.

I do not want all this "forwarded" rubbish. Whether it is a so-called-inspiring message on a soppy picture or scaremongering rumours or some unknown accident thing. If I get them, I usually delete them before even looking.

Seems to me that it is Facebook which is repsonsible for this gigabyte garbage surge on the net; Whatsapp is just another channel for it.
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Old 20th March 2017, 13:28   #13
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Default Re: WhatsApp and its effect on our lives

WhatsApp [WA] came with a noble thought, and was used as a voluntary tool, where talking on the phone, SMSing (with a limit + charge), and meeting up were considered normal. Now it has all changed. It seems everything is driven by WA, now. It is a merger between FB and chat messengers -- with huge volumes floating around.

Worst tangent are the groups which people create, and use them for infighting, sending good-morning messages, basically SPAM. Last but not the least: are the family / office / cousin groups which are created as a mandatory process. People take offense if one exits the group. WA still does not have the capability to permanently disable the alerts (even if muted + archived), new group messages jump to the top.

It has become a nuisance.
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Old 20th March 2017, 13:36   #14
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Default Re: WhatsApp and its effect on our lives

If WhatsApp can limit characters per message to about 200, I would be so happy. I'll take any feature with which I can ignore messages above 200 characters and they would be hidden.

I find groups very useful in some cases- sports groups and resident association group. There are groups (within the family and relatives) which you can't exit without people getting offended. I've developed a habit of contextual reading for group messages- by reading the replies, I can figure out what the major subject is and scroll back up if it's worth my attention.

It's the telecom operators of our country who are responsible for booming of WhatsApp. In the USA, hardly any people use WhatsApp as text is unlimited whereas it is still mostly charged per SMS.

I don't see a difference with 1-1 messaging. WA is actually better than SMS in India as photos can be sent easily compared to MMS, which costs much more than SMS.

In our country, WA is a necessary evil

Quote:
Originally Posted by asingh1977 View Post
. WA still does not have the capability to permanently disable the alerts (even if muted + archived), new group messages jump to the top.

It has become a nuisance.
You can disable alerts for groups. On Android, go to mute options and uncheck "Show Notifications"

Last edited by landcruiser123 : 20th March 2017 at 13:38.
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Old 20th March 2017, 14:31   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thad E Ginathom View Post
I do not want all this "forwarded" rubbish. Whether it is a so-called-inspiring message on a soppy picture or scaremongering rumours or some unknown accident thing. If I get them, I usually delete them before even looking.
Speaking of forwards and rumours, I was having a cup of tea today morning when i casually picked up the phone to check whatsapp messages.

Guess what i found in one of the groups i have subscribed to, while having a sip:

Name:  cb1df616250442b6b00cf3ecad1ab988.jpg
Views: 1382
Size:  78.4 KB

It reads in Hindi "Water insect is here in India, beware of the water you drink".

Needless to say, i spilled over my tea.


Last edited by DCEite : 20th March 2017 at 14:33.
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