The scariest notification

Image: Google

Is the one about updating WhatsApp. Which new feature will WhatsApp introduce this time? My disdain towards this app stems from the absence of the ability to disconnect from it. This, in fact, is a clever move from the creators who don’t want the users to be “offline”. This has established an unspoken expectation that I am always available to respond to the messages unless I disconnect from Wi-Fi.

WhatsApp is an instant messenger, which like many other messaging apps has evolved since its invention in 2009. The history of messaging can be traced back to the 1990s. As time progressed, more features were added to messengers to improve the user experience. However, one feature that remained constant was the ability to sign out. This translated to, “I am not available on this machine anymore”. Thus, allowing users to move away from their machines.

Since we have become “nomphobes” it has become impossible to avoid these machines aka smartphones. WhatsApp has iteratively introduced features making it a challenge for people to avoid connections and conversations. In 2012, the location sharing feature was added which made it clear that I could not hide my whereabouts.

My pet peeve so far has been modifications in privacy settings. My contacts can view when I was last available on the app or whether I read their messages. WhatsApp has the provision to hide these features, but I don’t want to because I want others to respect my decision of not responding to them.

The feature that has aided the circulation of viral videos and fake news is — Group chat. As of now, there is no way for users to avoid being added to the noisy, family or school reunion groups. The messages circulated here are equivalent to email spams (remember them from your Hotmail account days?). The only way to get out of the group chat is by voluntarily leaving it. Which is followed by the passive-aggressive treatment bestowed by the members when the app declares your departure through a message.

Because I have my entire family on this app and without it, group assignments in the university will be impossible. I haven’t been able to remove it from my phone.

I hope WhatsApp creators realize the need to have a “logout” button and implement it.

I write about productivity, technology, and content strategy. Creator of 1moretale on Instagram.