Features Saturday, April 18, 2015 - 05:30
Anjali remembers the day when her newborn baby was born and the reaction her mother had on the momentous occasion.   “The first thing that my mother said after clicking my newborn baby’s first picture is, ‘Let me send it on the family [WhatsApp] group right away’,” she says.   While this sort of response is not entirely new in an age of technology and oversharing, the concept of a family WhatsApp group between immediate and extended members is growing - and appears to be becoming a mild annoyance.   Most of the people The News Minute spoke to are part of multiple family groups: one exclusively for cousins and another with all the extended family members, on paternal and maternal side respectively.   Do you have a family WhatsApp group too? TNM received mixed responses. Some are grateful for the existence of family groups.   “Earlier, my wife used to make long distance calls to her sisters and keep chatting about the weather. After joining the family group, she gets to talk to all her sisters at once, saving her a lot more time, and me, a lot of money”, Haridas Varier said.   Others tire of the constant messaging.   Ashwathy Babu, a post-graduate student from Ernakulam is not sure how she feels about being in a family group. “Sometimes it is a good thing and at other times I find it annoying because our group is hyperactive, and it is difficult to keep track of everything all at once.”   A 27-year-old techie from Bengaluru got off WhatsApp last October because of “information overload”. He said that the constant flow of information was a little too much to bear and ultimately turned out to be boring, after the initial excitement the group had created waned.   However, Subin from Mumbai does not mind the umpteen numbers of funny puzzles that he is bombarded with on his family group. “I generally ignore long forwards and most often refrain from even downloading pictures that are posted, because most of them are just random stuff that are more of conversation starters,” he said.   It is probably the generation gap factor playing its toll, but obligatory replies are what Akshaya find most irritating about family groups. “You just can’t ignore a relative, lest your mother lashes out at you on personal chat for not responding to a text.”   Birthday wishes are one of those mandatory texts you have to send in order to maintain the etiquette of the group. Not to mention the overload of emoticons. Many people also find it difficult to match up with the over-enthusiasm of the older generation, explaining their disinterest in family groups.    “It is worse when younger cousins join the group and chime in with stupid jokes and forwarded messages,” said Utsav Nath from Gurgaon.   Sandeep complains that he is most often unable to decide how to respond to and often ends up offending the older members with his comments, which he intends to be funny. “They are purely a waste of time, I chose to remain a passive member,” he said.   Anand Kumar, a hotelier based out of Bangalore has a very different point to make.    “The group never annoys me. It is a forum where I get to mingle with senior family members. The knowledge exchange which happens in the group makes it more interesting. Since our family consists of professionals from different fields, information they share also varies, making it a mini encyclopedia”, he said.   So maybe, just maybe, family WhatsApp groups aren’t all that bad? Tell us your experience and views in the comments below.

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