As families disperse geographically, the family WhatsApp group can keep you together. As long as you remember that Mum is "Chief"by Harry Harris / September 18, 2017 / Leave a comment
My Mum still isn’t properly certain of the difference between data and wifi. Since getting a smartphone a couple of years ago—after labouring away with an old-school handset since I was a teenager—she’s become fairly adept at using the new tech: her emoji game is solid, she’s great on Instagram, and she can take a selfie.
But the only way I can describe data usage in a way that lands is thus: on wifi, you won’t get charged sending photos to the family Whatsapp.
Our family are far from alone in relying on Whatsapp for the bulk of our communication. A cursory crowdsourcing reveals groups that include kids and spouses, with some people having multiple Whatsapp groups for different configurations of family members. My survey of group names, meanwhile, throws up gems from “Lord Mumpface and disciples” to “Mostly dog photos, tbf”, as well as four called “Famalam.” Ours, more prosaically, just goes by “The Kids”.
Up until last year our family was pretty neatly connected—three kids in London, two of whom had stuck around after going to University, and two parents in Wales, in the house where we grew up. Now we’re a bit more disparate. Mum’s still home, but Dad’s in New Zealand and I’m now in Edinburgh. Our semi-regular visits to and fro between Wales and the English capital now operate less as a catch-all for family interaction.
“The Kids”—featuring current members my Mum, brother Jack, myself and my sister Ellen (founder and group admin)—is a nice digital substitute for our geographic disconnect. This is, to be clear, its second incarnation: Mum accidentally left the first group when she got a new phone, although she now vehemently denies this.
Over the course of its history, the group has been used to co-ordinate Christmas dinner, discuss what Netflix shows to watch, share holiday pictures, and counsel as to whether Ellen’s boyfriend Adam should be allowed to join the WhatsApp Group—to which the eventual conclusion was: absolutely not.
This is not to cast shade on Adam, by the way, who we all like very much and I’m sure would add good value to the group. But it would undermine an underlying tenet of “The Kids”, and,…