I can understand their excitement. For people like my uncle who come from the era of post cards, in-land letters and telegrams, the idea of instant messaging itself is a fascinating thing. And even I, a couple of decades ago, have seen a single landline telephone at home being used by the entire neighborhood for emergency purposes. So even after years of using WhatsApp, this “instant messaging” thing has never ceased to excite our senior folks in the family. At times it is good. Those photo quizzes, sharing a few lighter moments, celebrations and wishes are all feel good factors. But there is also another side to it which is very much annoying and frustrating at times!
I am receiving at least 10 Sai baba pics every day of which I am asked to forward at least 5 of them to avoid bad luck, some of them within 7 seconds. Now I am forced to know what breakfast every damn member in my family had; after a family gathering, every member in the group shares all the awkward selfies that they have taken. Impromptu video call from Realiance Jio empowered uncle is cool. But definitely not pleasing when you’re in the loo. Not to forget the often “Oops.. Sorry by mistake sound recordings of 0.2 seconds each. Wait… That is not it!
While one aunt, everyday emphasize the importance of Sudarshana Kriya by Art of Living Ravishankar, the other aunt is always busy preaching about all the 33 crore Hindu gods, one per day. That uncle who forwards the same old RaGa joke thrice doesn’t even realize that it is too cliché. And we have a dedicated public sector members in the mid-40s who are active only when there is change in pay commissions, Dearness Allowance hikes, HRA changes and so on which are non-existent in the corporate world. And one category of people presume they are educating the world by forwarding only intelligent spams like “the employee who had HIV and his blood has spilled into Frooti”, “Messages sent and certified by CNN/NASA/BBC”, “Some weird math-magic day of a month which appear only once in 821 years”.. Uff! This category is the most irking of all. The excitement reaches heights when there is a new baby born in the family. Every now and then, the aunt promoted to granny starts sending videos of the baby doing everything. I mean “literally everything”! The baby’s first poop video in full HD and what not! Gimme a break.
All my cousins from the younger generation have a separate group so we don’t talk much here. I know there is mute/uninstall and may other tweaks to avoid this. I tried muting it once and to my surprise I started getting calls as to why am I not replying to any of the messages in spite of being online. Smart phones you see! I was caught red handed. So we still have to be a part of the group to answer any unexpected questions which may be directed at us like “Why is your dad not picking calls? Or how is your mother’s sugar levels now?” We all cousins decided on a mass exodus one day only to realize that we were added back to the group by evening. Thanks to the uncle who takes pride being the admin. In the midst of all these, a few good morning messages and thoughts are really genuine and feels good. The only blessed thing is that we are almost an entirely right wing family (no personifications please) and I am only happy to be exempted from the Modi v/s Kejriwal discussions.
I used to get irked in the beginning. It used to bother me a lot! I always wondered if I am taking all this too seriously. But now, for my own good, I have decided to have an air of easy unconcern and take everything that happens in the group on a lighter note. With much thought, I have been able to understand; have been able to grasp and comprehend what is keeping my family WhatsApp group alive and kicking. I guess tolerating such things is a possibility only with people you are comfortable with.
After all, Love for the family is an excuse to be stupid.