How I Quit WhatsApp
9 months ago I fell in the pool and just never replaced my smartphone. I got a Nokia banana-phone which is honestly about as useful as a banana. As a result, I couldn’t use WhatsApp. When I logged into my wife’s phone to finally delete the app, however, all hell broke loose.
For other people.
Indi has left the group
This is what lashed across the screens of my relatives, my old work mates, my friends, my world. The app doesn’t say:
Indi left WhatsApp because it sucks
Indi has left the group because you suck, and he's probably mad at you.
Literally, my Punchi Amma called me that night to see what was wrong. The whole family was talking about it. I of course didn’t pick up, which must have kicked the speculation into overdrive. “WHAT DID WE DO?” This would have presumably been happening on every group I was in.
In the morning Amma called to yell at me for, like, leaving the family. I was like holy shit, this is one sticky app. They don’t need to send emails. If you quit your own mother will yell at you.
The power of WhatsApp
WhatsApp is a hell of a thing. People use it for everything. Sharing baby photos, doing work, ordering food, sending medical reports. Also rampant disinformation, organizing riots, and the casual destruction of civilization. I just didn’t want to use it anymore.
I hate FACEBOOK, and I try not to use products by companies I hate. That’s basically it, but their WhatsApp product is so powerful that my relatives thought I hated them.
All of the burden of my decision, of course, fell on my wife, who was still on WhatsApp lol. She ended up on a WhatsApp group with just my parents and fielding all sorts of questions about me. At one point my mother got mad because I was saying motherfucker on Twitter and tried to scold me through my wife. This was a small scene, obviously. All from just deleting a motherfucking app.
The first few weeks were honestly a bit rough. The pressure to rejoin the Borg was strong. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile. My secret weapon, however, was that I just didn’t have a smartphone. And I am an asshole. I called everyone and told them to call me if they have problems, and to not go through my wife. This sorta works, at least for problems.
Eventually everyone just gave up and accepted me as I am not. The social pressure to return to the social pressure has disappeared and I’m still connected to my family and friends as much as ever, I’m just not seeing random forwards from them all the time.
I try to call my mother more regularly and if anybody needs to reach me they can call. Or just not, whatever. My dog and children don’t have WhatsApp and they’re the most important people to me. AND MY WIFE SAYS MY WIFE.
This obviously isn’t for everyone. I’m middle-aged, I work from home, I’m not trying to mate and I don’t have a workplace, I really don’t give a shit. As annoying as quitting WhatsApp was for everybody else, for me it was fine. Honestly, it was great. I literally never get a message that pisses me off. If someone does piss me off over SMS what am I going to do about it? Get into a fight with a fucking T9 keyboard?
I was one of the first people on FACEBOOK, and I’m one of the first people off. I’m an early un-adopter. If I want to be outraged I can still open Twitter, I just don’t need to be outraged at my family and friends.
Life after WhatsApp
After months and months it’s all settled down. Everyone has gotten used to me not existing. I’d say they treat me like a old person, but old people have WhatsApp, that’s why it’s so fucked up. I guess they just treat me like a person that isn’t on WhatsApp.
I did miss being in touch with friends, but now I just call them. Calling nowadays usually requires 10 messages about when to call, but I just call. It’s nice. We can tell jokes with tone, not worrying about hideously offending someone. We say hello and good-bye and don’t disappear for days in between sentences.
Sometimes people are like “I wish I could send you this on WhatsApp” and I’m like “I’m so glad you can’t”. If someone wants to forward me something they need to physically find me and put their own phone in front of my face, which my friend Guillaume annoyingly still tries to do (he’s a refugee here).
I don’t know everything that’s going on, but if something’s really important, I get to know. If I’m buying something they can’t ‘just send me that on WhatsApp’ but they spend an extra two minutes and send it on email or SMS. And honestly, lots of shit just disappears. I don’t miss it.
I’m not saying quit WhatsApp. Your mom would probably yell at you. I’m just saying that quitting WhatsApp is possible to do. I’ve quit for over 9 months now and it’s fine. I’m happier. I’m completely FACEBOOK free, and it’s the way to be. Y’all don’t know, but before it fucked up America it helped fuel riots in Sri Lanka and Myanmar. That company gives zero shits about us or even the country it’s from. FACEBOOK can go to hell. I have left the group.
All I’m saying is that life without WhatsApp is like life before WhatsApp. It’s fine. In many ways better, because you’re only destroying civilization at the same slow pace that humanity is used to. Life has been like this for millions of years and still is for billions of people that use something else.
WhatsApp seems necessary, but it’s not. You can use other messaging apps. You can talk to people. Or you can just not. Life can find you without it constantly pinging you every 30 seconds. It’s absolutely not for everybody, but life without WhatsApp is entirely possible. I’ve been doing it for months.