WhatsApp and the Naked Truth

2017-02-02 09:28

It’s all of our biggest nightmares. Or has been since the advent of WhatsApp. It has ruined friendships, dissolved marriages and has turned our cell phones into active hand held grenades. Ready to explode at any time, taking with it the fragile structures of our otherwise meaningless lives. Because without WhatsApp Groups, do we exist at all?

And it happened to me. Or to my wife..or to her 233 friends in her Bakery Group. When she sent a private photo, for my eyes only, to the entire list.

I was driving home from a meeting in Pretoria. It had gone very well incidentally, and aside from my increasing and urgent need for a coffee, I was in a good space. My son was with me in the car when both our phones beeped. He checked his phone and then turned to look at me. He said nothing but his face spoke volumes. He was clearly unhappy.

“Mom just sent a photo that I think is for you.” He said. “At least I hope it is”.

The phones beeped again. I was driving so I couldn’t look. I was petrified. And again it beeped and again and again. Each sound was more frantic and sounded more urgent. I couldn’t ask my son to describe the photo and so I focused forward, for once hoping for bumper to bumper traffic so that I could steel a glance downward. I could hear the fabric of my world being shredded with each announcement of a new message received. Each vibration felt like a seismic event and I imagined the Tsunami that would follow. In no scenario could this be good.

Worst of all, I knew I was mixing metaphors.

The mind is a horrible thing. Without warning, I remembered the story of the mom who had sent her husband a picture of her recent haircut. Only it wasn’t of her head, and it wasn’t her husband she sent it to. But rather to her son’s Mom’s Hockey WhatsApp Group. It didn’t go well. As you can imagine. There was most definitely no happy ending.

I was shaken from my vacancy by another alert. This time my wrist-worn Garmin needed me to know that I had apparently entered an aerobic heart rate phase. Which is a good thing if you are on the treadmill. Not so good if you are on the “Mike One South” heading towards Johannesburg. I wondered if Discovery Vitality would recognize this for my weekly goals but decided that if I had no life, it would hardly matter. There was also no doubting that my blood pressure was at least 180/ 100 and that according to everything I read in Men’s Health, I was one WhatsApp message away from having a stroke. I needed to reign this in.

“What did mom send?” I eventually asked. My voice didn’t sound like my own and and I felt sad for my son who had to witness to his father’s naked vulnerability. It seemed to last an age before he answered and said, “She has made you a ‘Banting’ cheesecake. But sent it to everyone. I cannot believe that this is only for you. Why couldn’t we try it? Who does that?” His disgust was evident. I exhaled and Garmin indicated I had reduced to a fat burning phase. Blood pressure 150/ 95.

In some ways I had stared death in the face that day. I had crossed over to the other side, and what I had seen was not pretty. There was no light to show me the way and to guide me, there were no long lost, but adored family members waiting to usher me home. What there was instead was a dark void of nothing. Which was more or less what the banting cheese cake tasted like.

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