Social media etiquette in the UAE: What’s Apt on WhatsApp?

Infographic Image Credit: By Vijith Pullikal/Assistant Product Manager/Gulf News

WhatsApp personality types: Which one are you?

By Sharmila Dhal, UAE Editor

Dubai: Are you one of those who keeps lamenting about WhatsApp and its endless litany of messages? If yes, what stops you from just deleting the app from your phone? The answer, in all probability, is that you cannot afford to do so.

Let’s face it, being part of the umpteen WhatsApp groups that we are on is no longer a JLT (just like that) exercise or a function of FOMO – that once-familiar “fear of missing out”. It’s an essential tool, both on the professional and personal front.

Necessary evil?

The convenience of instant messaging between individuals or among a group of people has made WhatsApp a necessary means of communication today. Few would argue with that. But necessary evil? Well, that’s a matter of perception.

Matter of perception
A sweeping condemnation of any social media platform is akin to a blanket damning of the universe itself. Image Credit: For illustrative purpose only

A sweeping condemnation of any social media platform is akin to a blanket damning of the universe itself. Just as the world is filled with people of all hues and cries (pun intended), so too is WhatsApp. How can it be any different? And why should it be otherwise?

Never a dull moment

A closer look at our WhatsApp realms would reveal the many personality types that populate them. From the first-off morning greeter to the ever-up broadcaster and everyone in between, the diverse characters at play ensure there’s never a dull moment.

Think about it: You have the blindfold forwarder; the compulsive video shooter; the “GIF-oholic” to borrow a phrase; the voice-noter who insists on being heard rather than read; the one-word-per-message spammer; the orthographically-challenged; the invisible voyeur; the lurker; the cliffhanger who thinks nothing about making plans that fall flat; the mixed messenger who blows hot, blows cold on a whim; the common contact, multi-group bombarder; the immodest flaunter; the digital flirt; the hands-down thumbs-upper; the needless nitpicker; the unrelenting political animal … the list can go on.

Infographic Image Credit: By Vijith Pullikal/Assistant Product Manager/Gulf News

Your problem, not theirs

Now, if you are thinking which one of them annoys you the most, well, it’s your problem – not theirs. The truth is we have little or no control over how others behave or express themselves.

There are established codes of conduct, official or otherwise, in every sphere of our life, the social media being no exception. Who abides by these codes and to what extent will always be a variable. But what remains our prerogative is how we choose to deal with them. More importantly, we could well be one of those personality types too. In which case, it wouldn’t hurt to take some corrective action.

Instant messages tempt, taunt and trigger a response

By Alex Abraham, Senior Associate Editor

Dubai: A few years ago, on my way to lunch with a few friends, I got my first taste of the perils of instant messaging. The lunch during a weekday was a rare opportunity to take a break as well as enjoy some hot food, rather than eat out of our lunch boxes. But the drive to the restaurant was traumatic. The friend who was driving had one eye on the road and another on the WhatsApp messages that kept popping on his phone. Ping, ping, ping, they went. And along with it, my appetite. My friend didn’t just read the messages, he insisted on replying to them while driving.

It gave me an inkling about how instant messages can tempt, taunt and trigger a response in an individual.

Messaging apps can be better utilised if users respect the privacy of others and filter what they send out, rather than forward to everyone on the contact list. Image Credit: For illustrative purpose only

Over the years, messaging apps have changed the way we live. Gone are the days of expensive international phone calls to connect with family or friends. Instead, a short message to say all is well conveys the message.

Unsolicited, unverified

But along with the ease of messaging came the constant barrage of news – unsolicited, unverified and without consideration for another person’s privacy. Groups made up of classmates from an era gone by discuss the pros and cons of political decisions often ending in disagreements and sometimes abuse, other social groups share information one may never be interested in. And stuck someone in between will be a piece of real information – likely to be missed in the deluge of messages.

Being in the media, I use messaging apps to stay abreast of what is happening around me. I also find it useful to keep in touch with the family. But I don’t read more than half the messages that come my way, and I don’t watch 90 per cent of the videos that are sent to me. I just don’t have the time.

Please call if it’s important

Messaging apps can be better utilised if users respect the privacy of others and filter what they send out, rather than forward to everyone on the contact list.

And of course, please call if there is anything important. Don’t send a WhatsApp message and hope the other person has seen it.

What UAE residents say

By Anjana Kumar, Senior Reporter

Dubai: When Gulf News spoke to residents to find out their views on the subject of What’sApp etiquette, here is what they had to say:

Rohan Modak, 21, Indian 

“I have realised that one should be wise and compassionate on a group chat. People sometimes say things inadvertently which can hurt the sentiment of others. There are some who simply do not care about what is being discussed on group chats.”

Rohan Modak

“There are others who do not bother about the purpose of the group chat and discuss other matters like personal issues.”

“These people should consider leaving the group chat which is meant for brainstorming ideas, discussing issues etc. Also, please be considerate and do not overcrowd WhatsApp groups with chats that are not relevant.”

Nouha Bouallegue, 41, Tunisian

Nouha Bouallegue

“I use the same courtesy while messaging as I would do while in a telephone conversation with a person. Moreover, I don’t expect to be questioned if I don’t answer messages straight away. We have a life outside social media and people should respect that.”

Majid Daher, 38, Jordanian

“I always have the choice to block a user if I am not happy with their behaviour. If I had to pick on something, it would be about the auto spell check system.

Majid Daher

“If I had to pick on something, it would be about the auto spell check system.”

“Some of the words that come out in the spell check leaves me quite surprised.”

Victoria James, 26, Briton

“The most annoying thing about people on WhatsApp is that people send multiple messages to a person when they can be sent as one. I also think it is rude when people start a conversation with you and then take hours to reply.

“Never delete old chats, just swipe left and archive them. It is always good to archive certain chats, especially work-related ones for proof of the message. One does not have to create group chats always. You can let your friends know about certain events without creating a group. Just send a broadcast.”

Dr. Poonam Sharma, 49, Indian

“Unverified videos that keep circulating on WhatsApp annoy me. Many of the “forwarded messages” are fake. In India, when there was a shortage of oxygen and hospital beds, 99 per cent of the numbers on the groups were fake. As a doctor myself, I was in touch with my peers back home. It is unfortunate that people misuse social media platforms to just say whatever they want and fool people. Personally, I don’t even check or open some of these contents.

Dr Poonam Sharma

“People don’t seem to remember that WhatsApp calls don’t work in the Emirates. It is exasperating as so many people keep doing video calls or audio calls so many times. By now, they should know WhatsApp audio and video calls don’t work here.”

“Another thing that bothers me is when people don’t respond to messages. That is so rude.”

Bai Norhaya W Maulana, 39, Filipina

“Some people behave irresponsibly on social media. For example, without asking your permission, people add you to WhatsApp groups unnecessarily. It is not right. Before you know it, you are in a group receiving a string of messages.

Bai Norhaya W Maulana

“Of course, you have the option to exit the group, but people should have the courtesy of asking you if they want to be added to a group or not.”

“Texting people at odd hours is also not done. I get messages in the middle of the night and that wakes me up. So I have started putting my phone on silent. But this way, I miss on some important office text messages.”