Graduates of WhatsApp University

My phone chimes with a notification sound, while the birds from the trees and skies chirp outside, my phone twitters me awake at 5:30 in the morning. My alarm is yet to wake me up but I turn it off nevertheless and reach for my device or ‘WhatsApp’ to be specific. It is now 5:45am, the Sun is not out yet but my mobile screen is brighter than ever. The world has entered my room bombarding me with wisdom and a flower wishing me good morning. It is demanding my attention, comments, jokes, wits, opinions and some fun emojis.

WhatsApp is now an intricate part of Indian culture. The app has more than 200 million users in the country, and it is nearly as large as Facebook’s Indian user base itself. And while it’s widely used by millennials, it’s really older Indians —  people like my parents, their friends, and extended family —  who’ve embraced it with striking passion and sincerity. From middle-aged men and housewives, to taxi drivers and domestic help, there’s an avalanche of jokes, political propaganda, and ‘motivational’ quotes that recirculate among networks.

Doctors and scientists have been trying to educate us for years and failed in doing so. Looks like all it took was a WhatsApp forward from my Kanpur-waale-Uncle to convince us all ! That is the power of a messenger app and society aunties’ new gossip platform. Finally, the benches placed in the gardens and parks can be utilised by others for peaceful evenings!

Why does this company which is owned by Facebook and functions with 50 non-Indian employees so famous in India?

Just a one small activity we as a community love to share — Free ka Advice. The forward feature which does not require much efforts and provides us with the context well typed and explained which blows our mind. Select and Send to all! Except your kids of course because now they are tired of your rampant forwarding syndrome if there exists one. This broadcasting feature has replaced the phone calls and letters written by proud uncles and aunties informing Bunty’s 10th grade marks or boasting about Ritu’s new job.

But who am I to complain, a millennial, so lazy that whenever a call vibrates on the screen my first thought is- ‘Why don’t you just text ?!’ A single emoji has the power to destroy years of relationships. Hundreds of groups with plans of Goa trips which is now equivalent to a meme sharing page. No matter what age group we belong to, everybody is chained to the rhythm.

Recently I saw an advertisement on television for WhatsApp. Why does this app need advertising now? OH! It was an ad for spreading awareness about fake news. If we think about it – right from desi remedy for Corona virus to declaration of Indian anthem as the best by UNESCO – we have seen it all. With so much knowledge and information surfacing on this application every day, we might as well start adding it in our Résumé – Graduating batch of 2020 at University of WhatsApp ( clap emoji ) ( dance emoji ).

The time is now 6:30 am, I close WhatsApp. I have already typed good morning to dozens however I haven’t gotten out of my bed to wish my parents who stay under the same roof as me. I place my phone down and climb out of bed , it chimes again and through the notifications I read a WhatsApp message sent by my mother from her kitchen – ‘ Good morning. It’s 9 o’clock already! Come out for breakfast..’ Sigh…face palm emoji.