Chalo ji, ek naya syapa start ho gaya hai. C’mon, you don’t know ‘syapa’? Okay. My dear body-in-Bhogal-but-mind-in-Berkeley friend, a nightmare has begun, bro! I had gone blue in the face telling everyone that the colour blue would someday ring a death bell for all of us, but no one believed me. Now, it has taken a firang tech company to make you all go, ‘Holy Sh**, what is this?’ Yeah, yeah, I’m referring to nothing but the two blue marks from hell, the ones that indicate that you’ve actually read someone’s whatsapp message on your phone. Till now you were in a state of bliss, you had quit Blackberry because of the wretched ‘R’ (for read) that would replace the less feared ‘D’ (for delivered) in a second, moved to Whatsapp because over here, the two grey ticks could only indicate that a message had been delivered to your phone, but not necessarily read by you...so life was all cool. Your boyfriend/girlfriend was back to being in love with you, your boss was all understanding, your wife didn’t turn into a Durga avatar every now and then, your parents didn’t freak out all so often. Then suddenly, the grey turned to blue. And chaos descended.
All the ‘I love you baby’ is soon going to turn into ‘Are you ignoring me? You read my message two hours back. Am I not important for you anymore?’ You’d no longer be able to tell the monster boss that the urgent mail he asked for got sent four hours later because you had missed reading his instructions on Whatsapp. Chat group ke har stupid forwarded joke pe nakli ka LOL karna padega...uff. There’s panic in the air. Dil se bad dua nikal rahi hai. Morons. Don’t they have any worthwhile innovations to spend their creative genius on? Maybe not. But, now that the stress is here, can the calmness tips be far behind?
1. Take a deep breath
Inhale from one nostril and exhale from the other. Sorry, I know this has nothing to do with Whatsapp. Style maarne ke liye tha. You see, any advice on calmness that starts with deep breathing has a greater acceptability, internationally. Coming back to the point, before the two blue ticks give you a nervous breakdown, allow me to take your memory back to another epidemic that had struck our Whatsapp universe not so long ago. Remember the life-threatening disease called ‘last seen at...’? Millions died of it, countless relationships were buried in mass graves amid shouting matches. The doctors worked relentlessly on finding a cure. All of us, for once, left cast, creed, religion, nationality, behind and prayed. Together, we found the solution, and the option to switch off the ‘last seen’ stamp magically appeared in the privacy settings. We just need to have faith in life. For those in tearing hurry, there’s always the cheat-route of switching off your internet connectivity, reading the message, and then switching it on without clicking on the specific Whatsapp message. For others, the net gurus and spiritual tech babas will soon start posting solutions on the forums. Vishwaas rakhein, kripa aayegi.
2.Ignore if you must
You know what, the biggest problem is that most of us mistake being ‘online’ as ‘being available to chat’. These are two different things. The invention of all these messenger services and free chat applications does not mean that a sword is now hung on your head that you have to respond to each and every message anyone decides to push your way. And NO, it’s not rude to not reply immediately even after you’ve evidently read a message, because the other person sent it out knowing their own convenience and situation, not yours. It’s the same mistake that people make ever since mobile phones came into our lives. If the phone rings, most people immediately pause whatever they are doing — having a meal, listening to music, watching a film, talking face-to-face with someone – and receive the call. It’s like an obligation for us to give priority to a phone call, because someone invented an instrument that we carry everywhere in our hands. Well, that someone did it for good reasons, not to add to the stress in your life and make you a slave of perceptions about what the caller will think if you won’t respond to a call or message right away. Unless it’s an emergency, you always have the right to decide when to respond to someone reaching out to you. Don’t turn every chat-ping into an emergency. You paid for your cellphone, remember? And don’t let your friends give you grief about not responding immediately to their every message even after reading it. If they are friends, they would respect your value for your time and know that your bond with them is beyond the two blue ticks.
3.For the sender
This one’s for those of you whose messages will be read but still the other person would not reply. You know what, it’s OKAY. Please don’t be a hyper-sensitive drama queen and rush into drawing meaning out of every unresponded chat message. The other person might just be genuinely caught up with something and might want to reply at peace and not for the heck of it, in a hurry. Do remember that in life, if someone really wanted to ignore you, they would not wait for a chat feature to indicate it. Your gut would tell you. So, don’t let your sensitivity pressure your friends into finding out ways to evade your messages. It’s stressful for them, it’s stressful for you, too, to keep waiting. The moment it starts to bug you that your pings are not getting replied to, don’t drive yourself crazy to check the phone. Just chuck the phone. Go for a nice walk. And yeah, take a deep breath. Inhale from one nostril and exhale from the other. Whatever.
(Sonal Kalra can never aspire to become a brand ambassador for technology. Maybe cellphone companies would pay her someday to quit writing. Mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/sonalkalra13. Follow on Twitter @sonalkalra.)