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‘Two blue ticks’ brought my world crashing down last week. The popular, and probably the first cross-platform instant messaging application, Whatsapp had incorporated ‘read message confirmation’ to the sender. Just like that, two blue tick marks changed my fortress to a glass cubicle. Where are the darn curtains when you need them!

You see, prior to this blue phase, the app was exactly that to me – an app of convenience. I logged in when I deemed fit. I skimmed through messages, and freely exited group chats. I remember someone once commented that ‘my last seen’ was more than 24 hours ago. It truly was. Yes, I am not very appful and I like my fingers to do better stuff, like type out the next post I need to blog about. Or change random channels on the idiot box. But live on chat is one thing I can’t do. I am conventional that way. If you matter, I’ll simply pick the phone and call you. And what’s the purpose of a group chat I still have to figure that one. Everyone’s talking. Everyone’s replying. Everyone’s reading. But WHO is understanding? Thankfully, Whatsapp has promised a blue tick on/off option in the next update. I breathe easy.

But why the animosity you ask? Don’t get me wrong. I love the product. It enables me to keep in touch with friends and family, far, far away. It is an awesome way to share information, pictures and videos. Why, I’ve even done long distance shopping in real-time, thanks to Whatsapp. My grouse is against the multiple users at one go. Or should I say misusers? To understand my pain, you should have, in your lifetime, belonged to at least one group chat. And if it is an all women chat, you’ve hit a home run.

The pings start even before the surya has done its mandatory namaskar. And wonder of wonders, it will be a ‘smily emoticon’ followed by ‘Hi’. And since 50 members can be added in a singular group chat, the hellos continue for the next hour or so. Of course, some members will take it upon themselves to rid the world of negativity with positive reinforcement messages. The forwarded ones they received in some other group chat, yes, those. Others with a funny bone will ransack their database to send a rib-tickler. How do you explain to these tweeps that they are being meted out third world treatment? These internet memes have died and gone to purgatory in the last century. Oh, but the enthusiasm to check that ping. FOMO is here to stay.

Then a bright head will start with a rant. And it is like manna sent from heaven, free for all. The hungry mob will devour it limb to limb and rip it apart like Hanuman did his chest, to prove a point. Whose battle is it anyway? What is the validity of the argument? Is the case in point even debatable? Would you have the same opinion face to face? Nope, doesn’t matter. You have a solution, it doesn’t matter even more. You should only have the ability to add-on to the problem. And cite examples from your experience that add weight to the situation at hand. Finally, after a debate that could teach the Lok Sabha a thing or two, they conclude it is futile to even discuss this. Yes, we will now observe a two-minute silence for the loss of sense and sensibility.

And for all the hearts and thumbs up and smiles sent, the cross conversations are a delight to behold. A does not like B, so will tell C, who in turn will send a snapshot of the conversation to D. B meanwhile has collaborated with E about how A truly is. E in the passing will mention this to Z who is not even in the same circle of ‘friends’. Z now meets A in another party and sends a video of how she was behaving to E. E jeers and shares it with her homies. The video somehow makes it to A. She is livid and sobs on C’s shoulders, swearing to not be seen in such shallow company. There is a one on one practically between the entire lists of contacts. Each one, playing their own game in the Big Boss territory. Yet, one invitation and all of them will confirm their presence like earnest Janes, flashing their sorority badges. All of them have an opinion, none of them the gumption to call a spade by its name. They meet, air kiss and faff like nothing else matters. And well, nothing does. It’s amazing the camaraderie and bonhomie. Remember the Barney song?

Unfortunately for me, my threshold for pain is minimal, particularly with regards to stupidity. Plus, I suffer from verbal diarrhea. I feel, it’s better out than in, no? I’d hate it if my default status was ‘Incessant Cribber’. Whatever it is, take a call for Pete’s sake! Move schools, countries, galaxies if need be, but stop the same old rants. I am not vying for the title of Miss Congeniality either. God knows, if murders were legal, I’d be an ace sharp shooter. And hence, for someone like me who not only uses a spade but also a hammer and a sickle if given a choice, my privacy matters to me. I find crowds claustrophobic. My inner circle is by invite only and I don’t need no blue ticks telling on me. I can pretty much walk the talk and shut the app. Capisce?

The question then I ask is this. Do you own that free will and freedom in speech?

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