FEATURE ARTICLE

Abi Adegboye, PhDSunday, January 28, 2018
[email protected]


ON WHATSAPP ETIQUETTE ET AL

"Whatever things are of good report, post these things"

- Abi Adegboye

groan every time I'm added to another WhatsApp group. Regardless of the purported reason for the establishment of the group, post patterns soon become familiar - record numbers of inane videos and anecdotes from the boundless archives of social media, a hundred felicitation messages to a celebrant in or related to the group, dozens of prayers requiring the reader to type amen, and graphic images that rend the heart. Unfortunately, the zero cost and easy accessibility of WhatsApp makes it the go-to app for groups which makes it difficult to boycott.

Given its ubiquity, here are some guidelines to make usage more pleasant:

Honor the purpose of the group: If it is for the betterment of your alma mater, talk about matters regarding the school. Please, limit the inconsequential chatter which tend to drown out pertinent information. For example, when a meeting notice is posted, comment on an agenda item instead of posting that hilarious video of a talking baby hyena that you just found during your social media forays.

Manage miracle myths: Typically, it goes like, "Type "amen" to this prayer and receive a miracle in two days." Unless you can guarantee a million dollars lands in my account, stop. And don't threaten either. The only thing that will happen if I pass your predatory blessing to everyone in my circle, is that they'll stop speaking to me! If your fingers are itching to click send, distribute knowledge like, "the easiest way to find the square root of any number is…" See, you want to know too ??

Forget Fake News: It isn't only 45 that creates his own version of the truth, propaganda has plagued the internet since inception. So, verify stuff before you send it out. Once, someone sent me a snippet that Dangote was dead. At 12:30 am! This was offensive on many levels - first, it was thankfully untrue. Secondly, if indeed true, why should you take it upon yourself to spread the 'gist?' Are you a family member? You know, this is how Achebe's death was broadcast before his son even acknowledged it! Thirdly, how does your spreading the news affect the targeted person or group?

Resist Repetition: If you belong to interlinked groups such as the Leadership Group of the Women's Group of the Big Church Group, post messages relevant to each specific group. Post your good morning message to the largest one - Big Church Group. This way, everyone in the smaller groups will see it once and not thrice like they currently do. This just makes the morning, better.

Don't fight in public: The saying, "don't argue with a fool, people might not notice the difference," is never truer than in a WhatsApp group where people hurling insults at each other, make unwilling participants of others in the group. If one cannot be civil to all members of a group, perhaps, one should create another in which all get along. Or, as Maryland urges, "Choose civility!"

NO GRAPHIC POSTS, ever!: You may have a salacious interest in seeing another human being's innards laid out in the open, no pun intended, just don't spread the contagion. God forbid such a fate befalls a relative, would you want such photos circulating the globe? I mean, it's gotten so that you can't google Nigeria without pulling up images of carnage. After all, what have you done about the killings? Would your peddling the graphic images bring back the dead or apprehend the guilty? Would it even move anyone to action?

Remember forever: Facebook is showing us what it does with everything we put out there. You log on and yippee, Facebook shows you a photo you shared 6 years ago. It asks, "do you want to share this again?" The internet never forgets. When you fight in public, peddle fake news, misrepresent yourself, and commit other missteps, be prepared for a regurgitation sometime in the future - when you've got your act together; when you're walking tall and doing great... Remember.

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