The Man from Madras Musings rarely writes about social media chiefly because the Chief does not quite like these things. Neither does MMM but then unlike Chief he cannot afford to stay away from these things either. There were many occasions when was a sorely tempted to write about the menace that lurks in these so-called aids to social connectivity but he held the typing hand and bade it to be still chiefly because he did not know what the Chief would say. But then, out of the blue in the last issue what should MMM see but an article on Alexa, the virtual assistant! What ho, said MMM to himself, the Chief is leapfrogging on technology. And so here is this piece on WhatsApp.
It all began as a counter to SMS – remember the short messaging service we once used and for which we charged? WhatsApp was free and so everyone jumped to it. It also allowed for images, audio and video to be sent and so people jumped into it even more. Gone were the days when for the birthday of the Elephant-headed God you worked out a complicated greeting of dots and dashes that was shaped like His trunk. Now you just needed to select a photo of said God from internet, paste your text and send it to all your relatives, and friends, and acquaintances, and even those you did not know. There was a simpler way out too – just forward someone else’s greeting.
There are some people whom MMM knows who in his view do little else other than forward WhatsApp messages. They send flowers and good morning wishes in the morning, audio and video clips during the day, fake news by evening and then good night wishes with more flowers by night. MMM is quite curt with these specimens and by phone call, messages and emails, has managed to get most of them to stop. And just as he was heaving a sigh of relief, along comes this personality. MMM and he were duly introduced and exchanged phone numbers. And that was that.
Only, that was not just that. From the next day, MMM was blessed to receive a benediction from this man each morning. If it was a Monday, the message would read Happy Monday and be accompanied by a picture of a deity. If it was Tuesday, it would say Happy Tuesday and have yet another deity appended. MMM suffered this for a fortnight and then mustered the courage to send a politely-worded message to personality asking if these could cease. The reply was prompt – the persinality, said the personality, was most sorry. He said he appreciated MMM’s problem and would make amends. It was just that he needed two days. Why asked MMM. The answer was rather sheepish – the personality, said the personality, knew how to add phone numbers to this list, but did not know how to remove them.
There followed two days of agony wherein MMM received more blessings and pictures of Gods. He then made bold to reiterate his request. This time the answer was most apologetic – there had been no progress in identifying the way to remove MMM’s number. Would MMM mind if therefore the personality blocked MMM’s number as that appeared to be the only way out? Mind? MMM was delighted. That ended the problem and all is well. MMM and personality are at peace. But it still amazes MMM that people add you to random lists without so much as a by-your-leave.
Pray explain this logic – sending tweets by comments on any worldly (or otherwise) topic to the whole world and tagging anyone including a Senior Railway official not connected with washing of railway coach windows or changing light bulbs is fine but a WhatsApp message from an Acquaintance, with whom a personal mobile number was shared, is not acceptable. Electronic media has challenged courtesies and their definitions in the modern world. The boundaries and definitions may need to be explained, as each has his own, though it is admitted that some stretch it very far, really far.
I have every right to complain over a service for which I pay. The tagging of the senior railway official is done by IRCTC and not by me.
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