Why family WhatsApp groups are unpopular


Bongani Ndlovu, Showbiz Correspondent
A FAMILY WhatsApp group has become one of the most dreaded places to comment and post things on, leading to it being the most unpopular group on this social media networking platform.

Almost everyone who has a smartphone nowadays is in a WhatsApp chat group among other groups that have brought people from around the world together.

Among the list of groups are the ones for gossip, friends, X-rated, work and then there’s a family WhatsApp group that is also part of that matrix.

The family WhatsApp group brings people of kith and kin together. But this one has for many, proven to be the most dreaded of WhatsApp groups to be in.

This is because there is a mix of parents, children, cousins, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles. The old and young dynamic causes friction every time someone posts something on the group.

Elders in the group take it upon themselves to whip in line youngsters they think would have posted something inappropriate. This then leads to the group being the least active out of all others as one would be scared to post.

The main family group ends up giving birth to splinter groups banded into cliques. These groups will be segregated mostly according to gender and age demographics with the majority of them being the younger folk in the group doing so.

These groups are created to whine, lament and rant about the behaviour of the adults in the main group and bemoan the fact that the young people are not free to express themselves there. In other words, freedom of speech is non-existent in the main family WhatsApp group, it’s either you toe the line or keep quiet.

Many people can attest to the fact that they are afraid to comment or post something in a family group. A lot of things race through a person’s mind on what will my uncle, father or mother think of this message if it’s outside the set rules of announcement of bereavements and weddings.

If it’s a joke, most definitely it will offend someone in the group. If that person is very uptight and whatever they say is wrong, everyone will agree. It’s mostly the rich uncle or aunt of the group who bosses everyone around and because of their protest, people put an infinite gag on themselves.

Resultantly, WhatsApp groups have been turned into announcement boards where family members notify others of a newly born, death, an upcoming wedding or a graduation.

This is where the family WhatsApp group is busiest, normally until the event passes, and then it’s back to default settings, inactivity.

Fun enough it is hard to exit the group, however boring and mundane it is, you cannot just merely exit. In fact if you do, a mini tribunal is set up to find out the reasons why you left.

You will be viewed as a bad family member who thinks they are better than everyone in the group. Worse in the African culture, as a child, you’d be viewed as downright disrespectful.

So other people decide it’s better to not say anything on the group and only check when there is a message. They opt to concentrate on other groups that they find more exciting because there are no gatekeepers, and shun the uptight dreary family group.

These are the reasons why family WhatsApp groups have become unpopular.

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