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[Listen to an audio version of this blog entry here.]

‘The hardest part was leaving the WhatsApp group.’ This is a common refrain you’ll hear from recently retired sports stars, those who are part of teams that is.

Wrong Way Corrigan is not a big fan of WhatsApp groups. Some people seem to like them, though.

The rather weird world of WhatsApp groups.

I find this rather perplexing. Do they really find the act of no longer virtually engaging with a group of people more difficult than actually not being part of the clique physically?

Maybe it’s just me, but I tend to prefer to meet (most) people face-to-face rather than communicate via social media or other such means (there are, of course, those who I have no desire to meet by any means — the feeling is no doubt mutual). For sure, the pandemic has made in-person meetings more difficult yet, on the same token, it has made me appreciate real-life interaction even more so.

I guess the “hard” part of leaving a WhatsApp group, particularly one that is a forum for something that has been a central part of one’s everyday life, is the fact that, normally, the person departing presses the leave button him/herself. ‘This is it, we’re parting ways and there’s no going back.’ Extinguishing oneself virtually, so to put it.

In defence of those sports stars who have found ‘WhatsApp group removal’ an emotional moment, many of them who I have read about were retiring earlier than planned for one reason or another.

For if you’ve reached a moment where you feel you’ve nothing more to give, then moving on shouldn’t be such a burden. In fact, I would have thought leaving behind the social media chitchat would be somewhat empowering. One chapter ends, on to the next. What’s more, one can still meet former teammates individually should one wish to do so.

Now I must state that I can’t speak for being part of WhatsApp groups linked to sports teams. WhatsApp wasn’t a thing the last time I was fully involved with a team.

Yet, I have been and am part of various social media groups across a range of interests. I can say with confidence that my leaving of any of them would not result in sleepless nights.

‘The ability to instantly interact with a bunch of people who I’ve either only fleetingly met or haven’t met at all is not something I see as desirable.’

Indeed, I’ve “unexpectedly” left a number of groups in recent times, one of which I actually founded. It wasn’t a big deal my side, although perhaps some other members raised eyebrows owing to the manner I abruptly left, I don’t know.

No friend of mine
To be honest, I find many social media groups rather tedious affairs. Of the ones in which I remain, it’s largely for self-publicity reasons when the need arises, as well as for getting rapid responses to the odd query or for receiving potentially useful information.

The ability to instantly interact with a bunch of people who I’ve either only fleetingly met or haven’t met at all is not something I see as desirable. The disadvantages outweigh the advantages as far as I’m concerned.

You see, I tend not to befriend people too quickly. It’s a process that appears to take even longer the older I get, and it’s certainly unlikely to happen over social media. It could be said I’m leaning towards the Scottish comedian Frankie Boyle’s school of thought, ‘A stranger is a cunt you haven’t met.’ Indeed.

The only real advantage I see with WhatsApp groups is that members generally don’t send voice messages. I’m not a fan of rambling monologues, although I have been guilty of same in the past in one-on-one WhatsApp engagements. ‘Do unto others’ and all that.

In mitigation, in certain circumstances, a voice message is more desirable than a written one. They should be used sparingly all the same. (Here’s a thought, WhatsApp. How about setting a daily limit on voice-message minutes per user? Like two minutes free and after that one has to pay a premium.)

On a broader scale, in terms of the various instant-messenger services available, WhatsApp certainly appears to have captivated the Western world. Where’s Viber these days?

Like most of these things, I have a kind of schizophrenic relationship with it. That is, ‘can’t live with it, can’t live without it’.

Or at least I’ve convinced myself of the latter. I can certainly live without WhatsApp groups. By extension, I’m sure I could live without WhatsApp. However, I feel I’m not quite ready to fully break up with it just yet.
Listen to Wrong Way’s Colombia Cast podcast here.

Facebook: Wrong Way Corrigan — The Blog & IQuiz “The Bogotá Pub Quiz”.

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La vida en Colombia desde la perspectiva de un periodista y locutor irlandés, quien ha vivido en el país desde 2011. El blog explora temas sociales y culturales, interacción con los nativos, viajes, actualidades y mucho más. Escucha su podcast acá: https://anchor.fm/brendan-corrigan.

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