It’s hard to think of a messaging experience better than WhatsApp.
At some point in our conversations, we laughed, we cried, and we ghosted the stranger we met on Tinder.
For every good WhatsApp moment though, there are bad ones. We meet someone or receive a message so infuriating that we want to mute them from our online existence.
Friends, Malaysians, and countrymen – they’re called WhatsApp woes.
Frustrating and downright annoying, they’re the trial and tribulations designed to test our patience in the world of online messaging. And who’s the person behind it all?
Our loved ones.
That’s right. We’re talking about that hot stuff who ghosted you, that friend who never replied you, and that relative who sent fake news to you.
We all have that one person in mind.
I can bet on Rosmah’s fortune of Hermès Birkins that you’ve blocked or muted at least one person on WhatsApp.
Come on, you’re not innocent.
Malaysians have a lot to say when we talk about it. It’s a sensitive subject after all (WhatsApp woes, not the Birkins).
When I asked my friends about their ultimate WhatsApp woes, they immediately shared what was on their minds.
When they finally hit ‘send’, these were the things they ranted about.
1. Being ignored in a group chat
For every gathering and gossip, there’s a specific group chat for it. The gathering may have ended or the gossip grew stale, yet it’s still there, waiting to be revived by a friend who always makes the effort to reconnect.
Most of the time, that person was you.
Here’s the annoying part. When you did make the effort to resuscitate an unresponsive group chat, your message just sits there. Ignored and alone, like a new kid on the first day of school.
No one bothered to reply, no one cared to respond.
Sooner or later, your lonely effort will be punctuated by WhatsApp’s cone of shame: the blue ticks.
Emiliene Sharon, a sales executive, knew how it felt to wear the cone of shame. Annoying was how she described it.
“Recently, my friends and I were planning to meet up. We excitedly planned the date, time and venue,” she said.
In the days leading up to the meet up, Emiliene reminded the group chat about the gathering but no one replied.
Then, she shared the best part. “During the day of our meet up, someone actually messaged the group and asked what happened to the plan,” she laughed.
Can someone pass her a face palming emoji?
2. Left on Read
Joshua wasn’t the only one who was ghosted by someone.
One time, I messaged a cute colleague for a favour. It wasn’t a real favour per se. It was me, throwing a line into a sea of conversations to see if he would take the bait.
In other words, I wanted to talk to him badly.
He was cute and I liked him. So, nothing was going to stop this thirsty woman from texting a cute guy on a Sunday morning.
So I texted him and waited.
One hour, two hours…
Three hours, four hours, five…
He was so quiet that I didn’t receive as much as a ‘K’. The longer I waited, the more humiliating it felt. In my head, I smacked myself with a stuffed unicorn out of embarrassment.
What was I even thinking? Why did he ignore my text? Why is this unicorn so fluffy?
When Monday morning rolled in, I walked up to that colleague and said “Dude, why did you ignore my message last weekend?”
“Oh shit, I’m sorry. I read it but forgot to reply you.”
He did not just say that to me.
Instantly, my embarrassment was replaced with annoyance.
Somewhere out there, I can imagine Sheneneh Jenkins waved her manicured finger and snapped back, “Hellll no, that cute boy did not just ghost you!”
But it was too late, Sheneneh. I was already wearing the cone of shame.
3. Gossiping in the wrong group chat
Gossiping is everyone’s guilty pleasure.
Have you gossiped about someone until you accidentally sent a message to the wrong group chat?
As much as you panicked and cursed, the expletives cannot save you from the crime of gossiping. The message was already out there and you have been caught red-handed.
Maryam*, a freelance psychologist, recognised this situation that happened in a group chat among co-workers. Not once but many times.
“There were several occurrences where my colleagues formed a clique within the team and accidentally sent a message to the wrong group, and it was about a particular co-worker,” she began. “It definitely caused an outrage between co-workers. When you know somebody within the team is being left out, the matter escalated from there.”
For Maryam, the hostile working environment made her dread to go to work. “It had gotten so bad that our boss addressed it during our meeting,” she said.
Since prevention is always better, it’s best to spill our tea someplace else.
4. Receiving voice messages in public
Am I the only one who thinks that listening to voice messages in public is embarrassing?
I can’t speak on behalf of every Malaysian, but definitely for the shy and introverted people who get anxious by the sight of voice messages.
One day, I was having lunch in a restaurant. The woman, at the next table, was exchanging cringe-y voice messages with her husband. You know, the cutesy kind fluffed with pet names and smooches.
“Hubby, have you eaten already?” the woman whispered to her iPhone.
And of course, the voice message received is never an equivalent to a whisper. The volume is normally 57% louder until someone from Keningau can hear your conversation.
“YEAH, I’VE EATEN ALREADY. I MISS YOU SO MUCH,” her husband’s voice echoed across the quiet restaurant.
“Wow, that was loud,” my gyoza whispered to me.
The couple exchanged voice messages for a while until the wife played a voice message that made me choke on my tonkatsu ramen.
I wasn’t ready for it. Her husband, in his deep Vin Diesel voice, said these three words…
“MUAH MUAH MUAH!”
Oh dear God, I laughed so hard and hid my face out of embarrassment.
Unbeknown to the poor husband, he kissed every diner and waiter in the restaurant. Unbeknown to the poor wife, everyone (including my gyoza) wanted to burst out laughing.
You might think this is a rare occurrence, but it happens more often than you think. In the mall, in the train, in the office. If you haven’t experienced it, you’re likely the one who is doing it.
Voice messages are unavoidable nowadays. For some Malaysians, it’s the preferred WhatsApp feature when their hands are busy steering the wheel or who knows what.
My point is every private conversation deserves a pair of earphones. It doesn’t hurt to have one tucked away in a handbag or your jean pocket.
Trust me, we don’t need to hear everything.
5. Getting chain messages from older relatives
Take a seat, uncles and aunties. We need to talk.
You know those viral news and chain messages you religiously sent on WhatsApp?
Yeah about that. We don’t read any of it.
The motivational quotes? Nope.
The political protest at the Malaysian embassy? Nope.
The harmful effects of eating canned luncheon meats from China? Seriously, we don’t read any of it.
You can ask copywriter Kylie* yourself. Like most Malaysians, she receives random messages and news from her family group on WhatsApp.
It annoyed the hell out of her.
“The information shared is mostly baseless and came from unverified sources,” she said. “Also, long chain messages with images mean more scrolling and longer reading time.”
Norman Liew*, a freelancer, shared the same sentiment. He even compared chain messages to spam emails.
“I’m currently in a WhatsApp group for my uncle’s reunion dinner. Although the celebration ended months ago, my uncle perceived the group chat as free-to-make announcement space,” he pointed out. “He even shared a message about a recent accidental death of a public figure.”
I can imagine my HR friend, Elle* nodding in agreement. The other day, she received a message from her relative about a woman who died after consuming meal wrapped in a banana leaf.
“It even led us to saying no to our regular Sunday banana leaf meals,” she shared. “The information was obviously fake, and it was clarified in the news a few days later.”
For assistant marketing manager TJR*, her experience was slightly different but relatable, nonetheless. Every day, her aunties and uncles would take turns to wish good morning to each other.
Not only that, TJR would receive images of flowers/puppies/kittens with a ‘good morning’ greeting or some random motivational quotes like ‘Today is the start of a new day’.
“I really hate those!” she said. “With the images they sent, it took up a lot of space and it had no substance.”
The thing is, do they confront their elders about it?
Kylie and Norman are both members of Team No.
“Based on my experience with my Dad, it won’t yield any results,” Norman shared. Then, Kylie added that it was the respect for her elders that got in the way.
Outspoken ones like Elle and TJR tried, but their advices fell on deaf ears.
When Elle brought it up with her older relatives, they told her that sharing viral news was a precautionary effort.
TJR’s aunt had a different precaution in mind. “My auntie said if she doesn’t reply one day, please check on her because that means something must have happened.”
It’s funny that WhatsApp has become the contributor to our social gains and pains.
Wherever our conversations take us, these WhatsApp woes appear when you least expect it. Sometimes, you’re being ignored in a group chat. Other times, you’re being ghosted by someone you liked.
At the end of the day, these are the episodes that made our messaging experiences frustrating and fascinating.
You may have a love-hate relationship with the people who caused your woes, but let’s face it WhatsApp would be bland without them.
*Names have been changed to protect their privacy
For similar articles read 6 Devious Ways a Cheater Uses WhatsApp, and “Who Was Your First Love?” – These Malaysians Tell Us All About Them.