Recently I was narrating my experiences to some of my colleagues about my experiences in our fun family what’s app Group. Boy I always had a perilous existence in the group. I narrated my penchant for factual accuracy and my tendency to even go after a joke posted in the group much to the chagrin of the other members of the group. My Colleagues laughed and commented that I was playing a spoiler in a fun group by asking for reference checks and going for the factual accuracy of all the posts and playing the role of a Wikipedia cop. Well In my defense I argued that any information presented in a family chat forum has to be accurate if the other members who are reading the posts have to take it seriously. Interestingly my other friend who is also a member of a similar group pointed out to me that I was more interested in analyzing the content of the posts and annoying my cousins rather than build relationships in the group. I argued with him the relationships which I have with my cousins have been established way back and the family chat was not a tool to build relationships but stay in touch. Nevertheless He cautioned me to exercise some restraint.
Family Group Chats are a very good medium to keep in touch. No doubt about that. However I strongly feel that we don’t need a family chat to keep in touch there are other options. When a Family Chat is started the bigger picture was to stay in touch and use it as a medium to relate family related events to all the other members of the group. The intention was very honorable. When the Group started I was not one of the initial members in the group. Of course any group has all types of people some who are very active and some just are happy to be passive members. I was invited to join the group two months after it kicked off and when I joined I saw all types of messages being posted in the chat right from very lengthy jokes to some great quotes and some insanely ordinary stuff. The intent of the group was to discuss only family related stuff but all sort of stuff was being posted in the group. I say Jokes were on the hit list of everybody. I noticed there were only a few active contributors and the rest were just happy to read the stuff dished out by a few contributors raising no objections what’s so ever to the content which was being posted in deference to the Family Hierarchy. A few protested and left the chat and the others in tune with the higher purpose of the group stayed put.
Initially I was just an observer in the group and slowly as I got more familiar with how the group chat operated I started posting my own Stuff. But even before that I was never afraid to speak up my mind and expressed my reservations for what I felt was incorrect with the group. My first protest led to an immediate repudiation and I immediately left only to be invited back a few weeks later. Later on I started to think how I could change the group. I mean there were all types of jokes flying around and for the first time I tried to post something which was informative than something which would tickle a few funny bones. My posts were received with a general positive response. As days rolled by I was posting all sort of information and some of the members did not seem to care and some members occasionally used to give my posts a thumbs up. After a while I questioned my rationale in posting such content in a family chat and felt may be I don’t belong there and the right place for me is some knowledge sharing community than a family group chat. A sense of despondency set in and I tried to turn my back on the group but again was given a positive validation that what stuff I was posting was in overall seen as being favorable to the group. After receiving the positive validation I tried to step up the plate in terms of my contributions to the group and all was good. But all of a sudden my penchant for factual accuracy and analyzing others content came to the fore and that’s when things stated veering in the other direction. I knew since I was critiquing others posts I felt the pressure to make sure my posts had nothing in them to be counter attacked.
As such I wondered why do I even have to take this role in this group which was sort of not an easy one like criticizing others posts and make sure my posts conveyed the right information and at the same time make sure I don’t ruffle any feathers. Added to this there was this component of impersonal communication on the family chat as is the fact in any social media and I had no idea what so ever what others were thinking and others reactions to my post was just a fancy of my imagination until I really riled a very close cousin of mine in a game of one up man ship. As the tension escalated and blew up neutral third party members I mean another close cousin of mine who never even chatted to me in the group suddenly came alive and banned me from posting any content on our family Chat. My biggest supporter in the group my Uncle who started the chat preferred not to take sides though when I aired my grievances to him sympathized with me as I was immediately sidelined by a veto power where in the true sense there was no such dictum which had to be followed. I left the group having no purpose in the group as I saw no point remaining in the group as a passive member.
Five Months passed by and one day I received the shocking news of my uncles passing away who never wanted me to leave the group in the first place. As an act of deference I joined our family chat group back and paid my homages by posting relevant content to support his family members and eulogizing my uncle. As the mourning period ended I questioned myself what my role should be in the group. Should I just take a passive seat and let others ride or be in the driver’s seat I mean there were many drivers seat.
I went back to my original style doing the same stuff what I used to do before albeit with a difference with a little more sense of diplomacy and tact. No matter how long I will be in our family chat I will try to give my best possible opinion on the various discussions and offer a balanced critique while not trying to upset the equilibrium of the group. I realized as much as I am human and from time to time seek validation in the group my purpose is to share whatever I can share with the rest of the group and provide something of substance to the group.