EVERYONE on the internet is excited about how WhatsApp is finally emerging from its chrysalis and becoming the awesome Monarch butterfly it was meant to be. This was achieved by simply adding Voice calling to its list of features which will help it “disrupt the voice calling industry in much the same way it revolutionized the texting industry all over the world.”
Given all of this, I am probably the only guy in the world who is not wowed about this supposed revolution. OK, me and apparently Econet, who if their word is to be believed, are unfazed by this development.
I have a lot of things that I do not like about the messaging app which is, of course, a prominent feature on my phone mainly because I have no choice. Everyone including my grandma Winnie uses it and I would be left out if I were to uninstall it.
First of all there are the usually touted advantages. it is cheaper than texting (SMSing), the interface is way nicer that the usual texting interface found on most phones, I don’t have to fiddle with weird MMS settings to send multimedia files as was/is the case with MMS (which by the way most people in this country have never figured how to use or don’t like to use), you can set it up without all the need to memorize another username and password for yet another chatting app and for the most part you can still tell if someone is ignoring you by looking at their famous blue ticks. Wait a minute! The last one is a disadvantage or is it an advantage? I don’t know.
This seems to be the case with most WhatsApp’s features most which you cannot really change. It seems the whole thing is run by Kim Jong Un’s (the guys is a dictator if you are wondering although the word does not appear even once in his Wikipedia profile despite his notoriety) cousin.
For example as far as I know if you want to remove the last seen feature on your account you will not be able to see other people’s “last seens” too even if they have not changed this on their own devices. That’s all reasonable but where is the fun in that? Then there is the theming option which is, of course, next to none existent ( there is little you can do besides using the flimsy option to change your wallpaper).
Then there is WhatsApp web that allows you to “use” WhatsApp on your desktop computer/laptop but not really because your phone has to be connected to the internet and as far as I can tell continues to munch through your data. It’s more like cPanel for the WhatsApp on your phone really, and you can tell I have never really been a cPanel fan right?
It’s always our way or the highway with these guys. You pay us $0.99 per year to use it because we will not show ads. Ok, this is sort of good. They also have a penchant for the convoluted, like when they introduced their calling feature. You have to update to the latest version and find someone to call you just so you can activate WhatsApp calling on your phone? What is that? (In Dr Doof’s voice).
These pilot unveilings, like with Gmail (it’s one of the reasons I don’t have a Gmail account in my own name someone, a namesake beat me, to it), Twitter, Facebook, Apple the list is endless, have never really never made that much of an impression on me. Usually because the product is almost always not yet ready at this stage, in the Ubuntu 15.04 Alpha kind of way.
For example, I could never make a call using my broadband connection during off-peak hours and it would appear it does not work with our 3G,EDGE GPRS connections either/yet.
Which brings me to WhatsApp groups. You see, instead of doing, according to my tencents (see what I just did there), the sensible thing and allowing people to search and join, or at least apply to join, a group that interest them like with other messaging Apps such as WeChat ( which I frequently use for my Barclay’s Premiership banter) you have to know the group’s admin in WhatsApp, who you have to contact somehow so that they can add you to the group.
This all does not sound like much until you consider the converse. The admin can just add you to any group even without your consent. All they need is your phone number and they can start sending you spam and whatever else the heck they want. All you can do is exit or mute the group and in which case the admin can just add you back and continue in which case your only recourse is to block the admin. A little labyrinthine but doable, right?
Wrong? In my case, it was my Form 4 graduation class group. You see, there are some parts of High school that I do not wish to be reminded of, sleeping dogs that I would rather have remain lying.
So to those who have made my acquaintance after High School I have told a consistent narrative. I was a brilliant “A” student who never failed a single subject and hung out with cool friends. ( I realize how contradictory this sounds since we all know jocks don’t hang out with geeks and I will leave you to guess which I was considering I have never kicked a ball in my life except a tennis ball with my brother during the one-touch games).
Imagine my exasperation when I woke up to find out I had been added to the St Faith’s class of 2003! It would seem the specific reason for my being added to this group was for the sole reason to humiliate me and a couple of others by resurrecting our worst High School moments.
It was a boarding school and they had pictures, lots of pictures, video stills, which although granted were recorded using old Video Cassette camcorders and therefore of less than HD quality, still showed my gangling ankles in disturbing detail.
As much as I tried leaving the group I couldn’t. The group admin kept adding me back and in the meantime I kept receiving media and messages about High School! At my expense too, since given my patchy use of WhatsApp I have never considered it prudent to invest in WhatsApp bundles.
After a little bit of Googling, I was advised to block the group admin. Which sounded straight forward enough except after accessing the info tab I noticed that they were a lot of admins and it was at this point I became really confused. Do I block each and every one of them? Or is there a specific admin I have to block?
Suffice to say after days of work I haven’t figured out how to do it. Exit a group with multiple admins and be able to exit it permanently. If it is at all possible that would require a lot of fiddling which I seriously doubt my poor grandma Winnie would be able to muster. WhatsApp has got to do something about that because it is a very serious privacy issue. It’s a mess and by that I meant to say cluster-something here.
In the meantime, I had to resort to secret back channel negotiations with my tormentors. Tickets to a Dynamos game here, a cold beer there and, of course, when any of that failed, blackmail photos of my own usually did the trick. Yes, my High School secrets are that important. Now I can empathize with all those girls in Pretty Little Liars, which in my defense, she made me watch it on Valentine’s day.