Social media has changed the lives we all agree, but is it for good or bad? The question doesn’t get immediate answers from anyone. There is always a long thinking before one can get back to answering.
Have we thought ever about how people who we have known in real life all of a sudden appear to be different in virtual world? Our next-door neighbour, our classmate with whom we have been hanging out throughout our school life, our father’s or mother’s siblings and our cousins with whom we have grown up sharing the goods and bad of our life appear to behave differently in WhtasApp groups.
Whatever one may have to answer we agree that this a new world and very different to the ‘real’ world. Apps like WhatsApp is a new community of people, known or unknown but rightfully connected through the virtual groups where we love to exit and stay connected to but hardly appear to behave how we have always behaved in the real world.
What makes WhatsApp communities
Community WhatsApp groups are a beautiful virtual world of our physical neighbours or immediate or extended family members, old college friends, colleagues etc etc many of whom we know and few we may know only by face and some we may not know by names or vis versa.
But it is also a beautiful world where we love to socialise and interact with even the strangers whom we hardly would have known otherwise. This is also the only place where we get the opportunity of knowing the ‘true’ colours of our next-door neighbours with whom we have been sharing those special dishes and exchanging invitations for generations but couldn’t know the ‘real’ side of them.
The Apps like WhatsApp have connected to our long-lost extended family members whom we only meet during the marriages or the deaths or our parents mentioning their names with much nostalgia how they would visit them during their childhood with a sigh and claiming again and again how “time has changed much and we no more love to socialise”.
The virtual communities have given this comfort of connecting people by squeezing up that physical distance. Although most appear to be happy but this virtual world has taken everyone by shock as people are knowing each other as if for the first time.
Knowing a new character of old friends and neighbours in WhatsApp world: The virtual character
The real character of even the oldest friends and relatives are coming out in open for the first time thanks to WhatsApp-like groups.
Till the existence of WhatsApp we hardly knew how politically motivated or which political colour our neighbours or even the close relative belonged to. How sad. Thanks to WhatsApp we now know who is my ‘real’ neighbour or a relative.
This person on the whatsApp group may not be the one with whom I have shared invitations for generations and exchanged the bowls full of special dishes and I have remembered the names of even the cousins and distant family members and counted every birth and deaths in the family but the one who I have only met in temples and during community gatherings on ‘Holi’ and ‘Diwali’ and who had lived somewhere in my locality.
This person on the WhatsApp group may be my close cousin or school buddy but he is surprisingly behaving differently which we can call the virtual character.
Thanks to WhatsApp I could discover that my next-door neighbour is ideologically different to mine but the distant neighbour of next to next lane is a ‘real’ brother like because he or she shares the same ideology as I do.
Ideology of a person does matter in the virtual world to connect
This ‘virtuality’ of community socialising is also quite ‘liberal’ and democratic in many ways. Yes, I said ‘democratic’, you did not mis-read. WhatsApp groups have come a long way and have become the only opportunity of knowing the ‘real us’.
In absence of any official guidelines to manage WhatsApp group other than during the emergency times of Covid 19 these groups are open and free for all to exchange and express anything and everything one can wish to and one can ingest.
That is how I find it absolutely ‘liberal’ and ‘democratic’ with no limitations as we have faced in our political system where the democratic rights always come with a rider of being responsible.
The WhatsApp group gives us the ‘absolute liberty and freedom of speech and expression’ contrary to what even our constitution refrains. Our constitutional guidelines that ‘no freedom is absolute’ does not fit in the virtual world of WhatsApp.
There is not satire here, but few try to manage the so called ‘official whatsapp group but with their own risk of being virtually abused and accused of being authoritarian and behaving like a tyrant.
Barring few, majority of these groups are a platform where the faceless and unaccountable virtual friends take liberties of hurting, abusing, accusing and even name calling each other. But everyone is a friend here.
No Hold No Bar….faceless and Cozy world of un-original and endless forwarding of messages with no responsibility whatsoever.
This is ‘community WhatsApp world’. We love to take liberties and love to remain unaccountable here because we have no face in this virtual world. we do not mind hurting anyone and if we feel hurt, we have liberties to abuse and leave the group. How liberal.