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Political Discussions And Drama In WhatsApp Groups

Posted: May 8, 2020

WhatsApp is a parallel universe where conversations are franker than the utopia which is Facebook. WhatsApp is some kind of an underworld where everything goes as it is never going to escape the four walls of the group. Ever since social distancing due to coronavirus has started, we all have been home and spending more time on WhatsApp. I love the jokes and other forwards which make me laugh and I love hearing from friends. I love seeing pictures from friends and family.

Lately, in about four of my groups there has been drama. People get into heated conversations about political issues and then someone leaves the group in a fit of anger till they cool down and they are requested to come back and join the group again. The harmony of the group is destroyed and a rift is created which is hard to fill back up again just like a knot in a friendship.

People have been butting heads about if Modiji is doing a good job in fighting Coronavirus or not. People either appreciate the five pm clapping or they think it was a futile exercise. If anything is said about the plight of the migrant workers people get very defensive and say now is not the time to find fault. And people who live in America simply cannot give an opinion on India as we are arm chair specialists who don’t know the ground realities, yet people all over the world have an opinion on Trump and what’s going on in America.

My point is – can we give credit where credit is due and point out the flaws where governments can do better? When I used to go for parent teacher conferences, the teachers always told me I handled constructive criticism about my kids much better than most parents do. Why does everything have to be either black or white? Why are most people always completely for or completely against someone? No one is perfect, to err is human. We cannot have blind faith in governments and we have to hold them accountable. At the same time, we cannot criticize everything a leader does and not find room for any praise or positivity at all. There has to be a balance.

I liked watching the diya lighting, clapping and bell videos from India, if nothing else it bought people together and gave them a moment of shared positivity, why scorn and make fun of this exercise? We could all get coronavirus and get sick or die and yet we are here arguing about these things and creating discord instead of uniting. We are all in this together. Goethe has rightly said, “When people keep themselves apart in mutual disdain. A truth is hidden from the heart. Their goals are much the same.”

In groups where everyone thinks the same way, its fine. They can all share information on the shared ideology. However, when it is a mixed group, I specially feel sorry for that one person whose thinking is different from the rest of the group and he or she dares to speak up and five people pounce back at him/her in quick succession. Why use disrespectful language and hurt feelings and sentiments? Why hate on the messenger if you do not agree with the message. Why say someone’s opinion is wrong? Why not say, I don’t get it but you are entitled to have your opinion. Live and let live. Arguments should always be civil and come from a premise of kindness and politeness. It is all about the tone.

A wise uncle told me not to get too involved in WhatsApp discussions as it is a waste of time and it depletes your energy. Texting is not a great means of communication. The writer writes something and someone can interpret it to be as something not intended by author. It turns into a series of misunderstandings and miscommunications. People respond as they think and there is no editing of thoughts. Sometimes they may just have a limited knowledge or understanding of the subject and yet they oppose science and facts with confirmation bias. When we respond to accusatory conversations we get defensive and in the ensuing adrenaline rush we may say hurtful things we can never take back. We have to remember not to take the bait. We need to take deep breaths and not respond to conversations right away. Its best to let things go. It’s best to politely agree to disagree.

Image Credits: Pixabay

I grew up in India but I have lived in Southeast USA since 1996. Part-

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