JOINING chat groups on WhatsApp or other chat sites has its pros and cons.
The benefits generally outweigh the disadvantages, and it is now a quick and easy way for many smartphone users and netizens to get in touch with others.
Sometimes, you are thrown into a chat group at the workplace as you need to communicate with your colleagues daily.
Most of the time, the chat groups connect you with family members, relatives, ex-schoolmates, neighbourhood committees or parent-teacher groups.
Members of business, cultural, religious and social organisations will find themselves in a chat group connecting all of them.
Joining these groups may give you another avenue to serve the community but it can also be a bane when some overzealous members misuse the app and overstep their boundaries.
Often I have heard of chat group administrators struggling to keep the house in order when members go overboard with postings that are deemed offensive, sexist, frivolous, racist, boring or a waste of all the members’ time.
Many group administrators come up with their own code of ethics calling for them to play judge and mete out ‘punishment’ to those who break the code.
The norm would be to give the ‘errant’ member a warning before they have to be booted out.
Some have argued that the members in the group are adults and can rationally think for themselves by taking the good and discarding the bad of these chat groups.
Hence, there is no need to feel bad or apologetic for sharing postings that are of general interest and useful to group members.
Chat members, on their part, should avoid sharing lengthy postings and big file-sized videos, photos and voice messages.
And, please stop repeating messages that were already posted earlier in the group.
Also, don’t turn the chat site into your personal wall of fame.
We have enough of that in Facebook, thank you. Just keep your postings short, clear and simple.
Remember, you can always send a personal message to any group member to chat at length.
I know many of my friends have exited chat groups simply because they couldn’t cope with the incessant barrage of postings and videos by those who seem to have a lot of time on their hands.
However, while freedom of expression should be encouraged, a free flow of postings without proper verification can be dangerous.
They can fan the spread of fake news and lead to untoward reactions.
I was surprised when a friend recently mentioned in a chat group that she often waited to respond to any newsbreak issue until I posted my comments on it to verify its authenticity.
This probably is because journalists are taught to seek clarification from the relevant authorities or the persons concerned to relay reliable information through their reports.
Amid life’s daily hustle and bustle, let us be thankful to those who pause a second to consider us and share their two cents’ worth even if it is through a boring ‘Good Morning’ message.
Let us not get all riled up over postings that may not be to our liking.
Be less judgmental about members’ personal lives, character or behaviour even if you don’t like or agree with their views or postings.
Nobody is perfect and nobody is always right too.
So, let us shed this ‘holier than thou’ attitude and try to work together for the greater good of society.
WhatsApp chat groups are technology’s ‘little communities’ where people can stay connected around the globe at the flick of their finger.
We must learn to respect the sensitivities of others in the group and not bulldoze others with our perceived ‘self-righteous’ thoughts and ideas all the time.
Let us put our good upbringing and social netiquette skills into practice and try to make the day brighter for others.
This reminds me of a beautifully written posting I recently received from a friend.
It reads: “When our smartphone hangs or is slow, we delete all the unwanted pics, files and data.
“In the same way, when our life hangs or slows down, let us delete unwanted memories and forget all unpleasant experiences of our life and get some extra space to enjoy it fully.
“Life is short so let’s live it to the fullest.”