WhatsApp Wars

2016-01-15 11:21

South African children went back to school this week. It’s a new year and that means new Whattsapp Groups. Which is very convenient if one has one child in one class and you and your child have no life. If not, then there is a fairly decent chance that you are committing six to eight hours a day keeping up with the multitude of conversations . Most are probably irrelevant, but might well, on the off chance, contain information so vital, that not knowing this will have a lasting and life alternating impact on your child’s school career (in a negative and shameful way). And that is hardly a chance worth taking.

We are blessed. Because there are the class groups, soccer groups (practice and team), lift schemes (morning and afternoon) groups, ballet, and gymnastics and Japanese Maths (or is that Indonesian), (for the future Actuary) as well as the regular Book Club (with ladies so scary one dares not not respond), Liverpool Supporters (spare a thought), Wednesday night poker (the Thursday night crowd never could get it together), Bible Study , and oh yes, work.

Simple rule of thumb is that if you are not currently committed to at least 5 active groups, you are a social misfit and your children might be condemned to a life on the fringe – meaning they will have no Whatsapp groups of their own in the future. Active groups are defined as groups that receive a minimum of three inane and irrelevant messages every alternative weekday night after 10pm. On average one should awaken to no less than 43 unread group messages in order to enjoy the comfort of the knowledge that you are fully socially functional. If not, the concern is that life is passing you by and your children will never be Actuaries.

A storm erupted on the Grade 8 Group yesterday. Apparently a teacher suggested that children in the class acquire a folder of sorts for their files. She mentioned this in a class of boys. Most the 14 year olds were unfazed but one was worried. And he made the mistake of communicating his anxiety to mom. Mom, being the best mom in the world (she is on 12 active Whatsapp groups) headed straight to Sandton City and scoured the area for such folder. Word around the school parking lot is that she was so intent on finding this holy grail that she didn’t even pop into H&M as she circles the centre (I can’t verify that because I heard it from someone who heard it from someone).

The group exploded. And the Amazing Race was on. It was clear that the 1st mom to find the file as well as to purchase it would be the January Mom of the month (or the week at least), but any mom who could not only locate and secure the files but do so on behalf of the other group moms would have immunity until the end of Term One. No questions asked. Even if she left David at soccer practice. (provided it wasn’t thundering) the crown would be hers. One hundred and twenty three Messages later the files were ordered for the class and Crown was placed. 27 messages of thanks and the class had its queen. Needless to say when confronted, the teacher blinked innocently and said, “It was just a suggestion, any folder will do”. But what did she know?

And then there is the Group Administrators. The power of the Administrator is real and all encompassing. The viciousness and brutality of Isis is nothing in comparison to what I have seen. They are judge and jury and executioner and they wield the power of knowing that there can be nothing more embarrassing that being removed from a group by the Admin. And you are a finger swipe from removal at any time. That is the frailty of life on a group. And its best you know that.

It happened to me once sometime ago; following an article that I wrote, and it is true to say that I am not quite over it, being sensitive and all. The public shaming is not something that one gets used to, but I am hoping that by the time that my 5th child finishes school that I will be allowed back onto a group, any group. I do believe that I am rehabilitated enough to function in that space and have been practicing at home in a loving and safe environment. I am hoping to be allowed onto a Book Club Group because those are the most interesting, but I will be happy even if its just the Indonesian Maths one.

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