The world is indeed such a small global village. The advancement in technology has made that all the more glaring. With just a click of a button, information is disseminated to thousands and even millions of individuals at the same time.
Social media over the years have advanced in its methodology of making people stay connected. In order to make it possible for like-minded people to come together, share information and have fun under a common roof, Whatsapp; an app owned by social media giant Facebook introduced Whatsapp group for that purpose.
With over 2 billion monthly active users around the globe, it is safe to say that Whatsapp groups have come to stay. However, with people from different backgrounds and personalities coming together under one digital space, coupled with the privacy issues often associated with social media, it is imperative to ask ‘Are Whatsapp groups really worth it?”
Almost every invention of man has its own disadvantages despite the numerous advantages attributed to them. This article will discuss the pros and cons of Whatsapp groups in relation to our digital well being.
Advantages of Whatsapp Groups
- Discussion and Instant Messaging: Due to the ease and speed at which a single piece of information could reach a large number of people at the same time in a Whatsapp group, many businesses have leveraged on it and have found it to be beneficial. For example, school owners have Whatsapp groups for their staff and also others for the parents where information can be posted and discussed without necessarily calling for physical meetings all the time.
- Reunions: Old Students Association of most schools have Whatsapp groups for different sets, these groups make it possible for old friends to meet again and reminisce on the beautiful memories they had in school. Also, such groups afford them opportunities to discuss ways in which they can assist their alma mater and even render financial assistance to old friends who are in need.
- Making New Friends: In the words of Letty Cottin Pogrebin “We need old friends to help us grow old and new friends to help us stay young”, this statement underscores the importance of making new friends. Whatsapp groups afford people endless opportunities of achieving that. School group chats make it easy to meet and befriend fellow coursemates and schoolmates and form close bonds that will last for a very long time.
- Skill Acquisition: Graphic designing, social media management and copywriting are now some of the most sought after skills around the world. Many people have been able to acquire some of these skills through free and paid online classes organized in Whatsapp groups especially since the beginning of the pandemic and these ones have been doing quite well for themselves with the skills learnt ever since.
After discussing some notable advantages of Whatsapp groups, let us now take a closer look at the other side of the coin.
Disadvantages of Whatsapp Groups
- No Privacy: Being in a Whatsapp group means that you automatically lose a measure of your digital privacy. This is because your number and profile picture becomes visibly available to everyone in that group. How irritating it usually is to get messages from strangers or to be added to some unproductive groups by someone you never knew all because he got your number from a Whatsapp group you both were in. More irking is receiving unsolicited calls and messages from a member of the opposite sex who got your number from a Whatsapp group. This can even make one become susceptible to online fraudsters.
- Addiction: With too many messages to read and wanting to be relevant in the conversations going on in groups, many have become dangerously addicted to such groups, often checking to see if new messages have been dropped or if someone has replied to their comments in the group. This addiction is usually at the expense of other more productive human activities like studying, performing household chores and resting.
- Spamming: It is often said that “You can never jump into a river and complain of getting wet”, similarly once you are in a Whatsapp group you become vulnerable to spam messages. You tend to see things you do not want to see and hear things you do not want to hear which definitely affects one’s emotional and mental well being.
- Unnecessary Misunderstandings: In Whatsapp groups, unnecessary arguments often occur due to the fact that it is a platform where different humans with a variety of behavioural traits converge. Additionally, since emotions cannot be adequately expressed through texts, tones and meaning of messages are often misconstrued.
- Strained Relationships: Many people, especially the youths now prefer to send messages to their family members on their family whatsapp groups instead of calling them individually. While this is not bad in itself, it is slowly replacing the more healthy form of conversation which is face-to-face. Family heads are often pressured by their young adult kids to have family meetings on their Whatsapp groups instead of meeting physically. This trend is already straining relationships and if it is not curbed, we might need heading down a dangerous path.
Conclusion: After analyzing some of the advantages and disadvantages of Whatsapp groups, it is important to note that the benefits associated with Whatsapp groups are enormous both financially and socially, while the disadvantages are huge too. In order to preserve our digital space and well being, the app developers should work on participants’ privacy in Whatsapp groups while every user need to understand that life on social media groups isn’t everything and that the real world of social interaction is actually outside social media groups in that plastic box that they are holding.
Humble Ogbonna, a Diction and Phonetics Instructor with a passion for writing sent in this entry from firstname.lastname@example.org