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Wishing For A Forwards Free Zone While Living In The Times Of COVID & WhatsApp?

Posted: June 1, 2020

Let’s not make our days of social distancing even more mechanical by sharing only forwards on WhatsApp. Let’s share our real life and real conversations.

It was a lovely morning and as I got out of bed, I was gearing up to face a beautiful day when ping! went my phone. I felt too relaxed to even lean forward and pick it up from the table near my bed.

“What if it’s something important?” I wondered suddenly and reached out for it quickly enough. But all that hurry was unwarranted. It was nothing more than a WhatsApp forward as usual on the virus.

“Not only is the virus doing its rounds, these forward are too! “ I groaned as I went through yet another forward about the virus. As I swiped down, another one met me. This time it was about politics. The next one didn’t get any better. It was a religious post.

By the time I put my phone back on the table, the damage was done. Gone was the peace and in its place was a fearful mind- “What if the latest news about the spread of the virus is true?”

The idea of a ‘forwards free’ WhatsApp group

“Phew!” Thank God we have this beautiful WhatsApp group that we started only a few days earlier,” my friend sighed in relief when I expressed my views to her on this matter. ”Since it’s new we can start off by keeping it a ‘forwards free zone.”

‘The Bangalore Buddies’ was a group of us who had worked together in Bangalore, and had now left the workplace and city behind us as we moved on to other places. But we wanted to maintain the friendships formed.

A ‘forwards free’ group was a good idea. Then perhaps we would have more time to find out about each other and help each other as we move through life. Coronavirus is creating more havoc than just in physical illnesses, and why do we need to hear about it in different proportions and in different shapes from ten different groups? Whether the virus has a shape or not, the stories making the rounds about it have varied shapes and sizes!

And we don’t hesitate to hit the forward button and share these stories, most often without even reading it through, or checking the authenticity of it.

No random forwards means better info

Is that to say that really good information should not be posted? That would be like throwing the baby away along with the bath water.

When we reduce the number of forwards of unimportant things, we will not miss out on any important information-things that can really benefit us, things we may either miss out or overlook when we have to wade our way through the information overload.

Share your life, share actual conversations

Don’t we feel good when we see people post creative videos of themselves singing or dancing or painting or trying out their latest recipes or sharing discourses of life’s experiences, straight from their heart? Won’t one such holy hymn or bhajan sung/written/expressed by us convey more to our friends than ten forwards of the same thing?

These creative activities have the opposite effect of mindlessly forwarding stuff everyone has seen umpteen number of times anyway. They make us more aware and mindful of what we are doing in life.

And so at the ‘Bangalore Buddies’, we are exploring the idea of making it about a space of sharing- sharing pictures of our times together, stories of how our children had grown up and their journeys, sharing laughter as we remembered lighter moments, supporting each other through tough times as we remembered past tough times we had already tided together.

Small moments of happiness spent together is the thread that holds us together even after so many years of not meeting each other. This is true of most of the family groups and friends groups .

Tech is a god; don’t let it become a monster

Technology helps us meet up at least in the virtual world and though it can never be compared to meeting people in real life, it gives us a platform to keep in touch till we can do so in the real .

Let us keep these human connections real and make at least some of these friends and family groups our own unique ones where we and our life stories, and not information about what this political leader did or that one didn’t, have center stage. And If we keep one or two groups forwards free, we won’t miss out anything. There will be twenty other groups which will carry the same forwards anyway.

And even if by a remote chance we happen to miss any important information, in spite of all the groups we have, we always have the news channels sensationalizing the same bit of news in 15 different ways.
Ah but then, to use a cliché-that’s a subject for another post!

First published here.

Image source: shutterstock

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