I am a member of many WhatsApp groups, and so are you. Much against our desire and good sense, we are forced to remain in some of them, due to familial, social or peer pressures, just so that folks do not label us as pompous asses who have grown too big for their boots.
Being a part of a WhatsApp group is akin to standing in a large hall full of people, with each one holding a microphone connected to a really loud speaker. One member talks and everyone else is forced to listen, even if it is a private conversation – and a surprising number do hold private conversations in groups without ever realising it.
Then there are countless forwards in every group. Plus, there are individual friends and contacts who also enthusiastically send forwards.
My status on WhatsApp reads, ‘No Forwards Please’. Does that protect me from repetitive forwards? Yes, about as efficiently as wearing a raincoat to stay dry before jumping into the sea – a sea of well meaning, humorous friends.
So, here are the types that you might recognise among your contacts and groups.
First in the honours list must come the MFs – Mindless Forwarders, who will forward a post as soon as they’ve read it and sometimes even without reading it. They have the support of BBs – Blind Believers, and ILs – Instant Likers, who will blindly believe and instantly ‘Like’ and react to anything and everything posted. Most of these are MAs – Mutual Admirers, of each other.
Best example of this is a story, most likely apocryphal, where one member wrote, ‘Happy Birthday, Tina!’ and a deluge of birthday wishes followed. Finally, the person who posted the original wish, wrote again, ‘Idiots, there’s no Tina in this group!’
Most mornings, you’ll meet the PWs – Picture Wishers, who can’t say a simple Good Morning without a picture of the rising sun or a flower or a bird. Most of these will probably grunt grumpily if you were to meet them in person.
Next come the CPPs – Copy Paste Philosophers. I don’t know where they go to find their wise posts, but they bombard you with one daily. Not surprisingly, I find they are the ones who follow their own teachings the least. “Enjoy every moment!” Advised one such. Really? How did I live all these years without your advice?
CPPs have wiser, elder siblings called PTs – Profound Thinkers, who forward serious and very long posts about esoteric problems, like US China relations or the likelihood of the Sun dying out. (That, by the way, would take about 4.5 billion years, according to NASA. Not something I would worry about when the tap often runs dry and my inverter sweats a lot!) I wonder what kind of conversations these folks have, especially with their wives.
Then there are CFs – Confident Forwarders, whose posts end with ‘It’s new in the market, forward it immediately’, when you and I have read it twelve times in six months. These folks normally also are LLs – Loudest Laughers, their laughter expressed with many repeated emojis at the end of their forwards.
The poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919) wrote in her poem Solitude,
Laugh, and the world laughs with you: Weep, and you weep alone.
For the WhatsApp groups, with due respect to the original, I would say,
Frown, and the world frowns with you: Forward a joke, and you laugh alone.
Then come the PVAs – Permanent Victims of Auto-correction, who really are simple folks, being overwhelmed by technology. Their goof ups are unintentional and therefore pardonable. ‘Hey Mr dinner pictures’, wrote one to me, when he meant, ‘Get me some pictures.’
Among all these classifications, where do I fit in? Among the SSs – Silent Sufferers! I had once objected to an unscientific (I’m being polite. It actually was downright silly.) post by a friend, and left my classmates’ group in a huff. But my friends added me back. I then realised that the friendship of these dudes, who I’ve been with since the fifth standard, is more important to me than the factual accuracy of their posts. And I don’t want to end up among the DDs – Disliked Doubters, who insist on perfection – in others!
One friend recently retired from the military. After years of security restrictions, in addition to poor internet on field postings, he was rather tickled to discover the joys of WhatsApp. Now that he had a lot of free time and a new toy, he started forwarding each and every post to me, averaging about ten per day. My requests and warnings went unheeded, so I forwarded a hundred – yes one full hundred – posts, pictures and videos to him in about five minutes. He has calmed down now, but his wife still hates me.
There are some genuine gems among the forwards, two of which are here. I cannot attribute authorship or copyright because they came to me as forwards. Suffice to say, they are not mine.
- Seven Shortest Stories:
Those who had coins, enjoyed in the rain. Those who had notes were busy looking for shelter.
Man and God both met somewhere. Both exclaimed, “My creator!”
Question: “Are you a Hindu or Muslim or Christian?” Answer: “I am hungry!”
The fool didn’t know it was impossible, so he did it.
“Wrong number,” said a familiar voice.
What if God asks you after you die, “So, how was heaven?”
We don’t make friends anymore . . .we add them.
- Stay positive:
If you had 86,400 Rupees and someone stole 10 Rupees from you, would you be upset and throw the remaining 86,390 away at that person?
Certainly not. You would move on and live. Right?
We have 86,400 seconds each day. Don’t let someone’s negative 10 seconds ruin the remaining 86,390 seconds of your day. Stay positive!
(By the way, I did use a calculator to confirm that 24x60x60 does actually equal 86400 before copy pasting it. If Newton had eaten the apple and gone back to sleep, would we remember him today?)
The worst forwards that I have come across are:
- Warning, do not answer a call from *********! Your phone will explode if you pick up a call from this number.
I was tempted to find the phone with that number and dial this forwarder so that his phone explodes right next to his ear. But I guess it would have been impossible to damage his brain any further! Also, it was a nine digit number, which does not exist in India.
- Dial this number ********** and your battery will get recharged immediately.
Wow! Is there a number that I could dial to recharge my bank account? Then I could live happily ever after, reading WhatsApp forwards till my brain turned into boiled cabbage.
The latest I read this very morning, which inspired me to write this piece, was:
- There are total 117 Shlokas in Bhagwad Gita. If you subtract your birth year from this number, you will get your age. Amazing miracle and example of the power of Shlokas. Everyone, please try it immediately. It’s fantastic.
I am neither a genius in mathematics, nor an expert on the Gita, but logic told me that firstly, this calculation can apply only to 2017, the current year. Secondly, I’ve seen the Gita, though not read it yet, (How can I, with so many forwards to go through daily?) so I know that it is too bulky to contain just 117 shlokas, or verses.
A quick search online revealed that this same amazing miracle happened in 2014 when Gita had a total of 114 verses and again in 2015 when it had 115 verses. I didn’t know that the holy scripture was still a work in progress, still being added to by every Tau, Dukhi and Hari, one verse every year! (Just for the record, Gita has 18 chapters and 700 verses.)
Finally, did you know that UNESCO has declared India’s ‘Jana Gana Mana’ as the best national anthem yesterday?
No? Lucky you. I’ve been hearing of this yesterday for years!
©Avinash P Chikte