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WhatsApp Groups are a mess

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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.”

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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.

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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.


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27 thoughts on “WhatsApp Groups are a mess

  1. I am really laughing hard at you right now! Well it serves u right, how do those people have your number in the first place? Suffice to say, being in a whatsapp group does not violate privacy, you let that “valuable privacy” go the moment you gave someone else your number. and that someone else will forever torment you by adding you into groups, that you indirectly solicited. Resort to deleting the app altogether, work for my boss. 🙂

    1. A number is something which one can get easily. I had to remove my old and popular line from whatsapps because of that. Very old friends will come from no where

  2. You my friend, deserve a beer (17 creates to be exact). You have an interesting style of writing, which keeps one glued to the article.
    Its just that I sense a sort of lovelessness (just made that up) towards WhatsApp. That kind of attitude you give to an ex-girlfriend who spread your infamous 3-balls picture after you broke up. Which means no matter how good this girlfriend is (WhatsApp) because they made you suffer in the past, you will never see the good they do.
    I love apps and software that redefine industries and an end of an era. Obviously when computers came out and started replacing typewriters, they were also a pain to use. Large keyboards, expensive hardware, needed lots of electricity, poor displays etc. But that was just the beginning. That’s where WhatsApp is right now.

    I promise you, it will get better.

  3. I will have to do this in pieces cos first draft failed to post
    The last seen thing is done for fairness if you can see when I was last online I should also be able to see when you where last online too. “Where is the fun in that ? ” Those are the words of a potential online stalker.And stalking is frowned upon or illegal in a lot of countries

    1. Wait a minute. I am say something so innocent and somehow I am suddenly compared to Perry Whitley!!! What’s next you are going to call me Ryan Hardy too?

      1. Lol ! nice one i had to go the perry whitley thing but it always starts of so innocently and ends up as an episode of True Crimes 🙂

  4. This posting thing seems to be a hit or miss affair 🙁 …. anyways
    The blue ticks can be irritating but the can be also be very useful in getting across the message ” I am not interested in anything you have to say ” without being direct about it

    1. Kkkkk! All I understand from these blue ticks are that I am in a mood. And somehow I am supposed to telepathically divine this and stop bothering you. My mama always said there are two people whom you never trust: A woman who can hold a hammer and a person who does not speak their mind.

      1. I would be trying to be subtle about it because it may be just right now u don’t want to talj to you after I nay change my mind

        1. I am a man and with man you have to be direct: ” I don’t feel like talking to you” a stalker keeps bothering you well after you have made this fact clear. Think of man as being like the C language. You have to define everything before you use it for example:
          #ifndef char * Blueticks_no_answer_in_5 = “I don’t want to talk to you today”
          Otherwise we keep budging bcoz we have always been told with women no means yes kind of like how false is equal to 0 and true is equal to 1 in Bash.

      2. So many mistakes on that post 🙁 … I meant to say that I would be trying to be subtle about it because right now I might not want to talk to you but I might change my mind later so no need to burn bridges . Which is why I keep my last seen information off no can call me a liar if they don’t have proof 🙂

  5. MMS and Voice Mail never caught on in Zimbabwe because Econet who where the first to introduce it charged an arm and a leg for the services so most people never bothered to learn how to use them because it was not worth it
    WhatsApp Web have never used it so nothing to say on that

  6. I give up opera mini is useless lets try uc browser instead
    On the 99 cents thing I have to admit that I am a bit worried because I have been using WhatsApp for several years nd have yet to pay a cent . I am worried that when they become strict about monetising the app they will jack up the price

  7. And one time !
    Themes for me they are irrelevant nd the people at WhatsApp seem to take the same view that I have which is . The message is what is important not the colour or the pattern on the paper or screen . The message and how fast it is delivered is what is important everything else is just window dressing …..nice but unimportant

  8. On the calling feature what they are guilty of is arrogance they look at their userbase (over 500 million users ) nd think to themselves we got here without a calling feature so we can take our time to get it perfect there is no rush so they are rolling it out slowly through ppeople who understand that the feature is still in Beta testing nd are much more forgiving of it failings ……. as an aside any problems you encounter using the calling function report them on the WhatsApp website it will help make the finished product better

  9. Surely whatsapp has got its own faults but here your disadvantages are very few compared with the advatages it has.

  10. Let me go all out.UC seems to work well here.
    Do you honestly believe Econet when they say they are not worried about the WhatsApp calling feature ? If you do I would like to sell you Birchenough Bridge for the low low price of $1000 🙂 🙂 . Just look at the damage done by these instant messaging apps (WhatsApp,Viber,Wechat,etc etc) to the revenue stream from sms’s now the gorilla is about enter the room nd take another bite out their lunch ( international call rates , peak hour rates ,cross network charges etc ) nd replace it with the flat price of data, no wonder WhatsApp is doing a slow roll out they are worried about the backlash from Mobile Network operators world wide !
    On the issue of allowing you to search nd join groups that you like ….. There is already a place you can do this it’s called FACEBOOK which incidentally owns WhatsApp so you can understand why they don’t to go into competition with themselves 🙂 (Facebook probably bought WhatsApp to prevent it from ever being temted to enter social network market 🙁 )
    And now to your Group problem my advice is BLOCK ALL THE ADMINS !
    There is this song by Bruce Springsteen called ” Glory Days ” about people behaving the way your former school mates are just remembering the glory days when they were on top of the world . Personally I don’t see your problem if you don’t want to be reminded of the past put in the time to blick each and every one of themand then forget them if there are any people you still want ir need to talk to then explain to them nicely ( or with threats of bodily harm 🙂 ) that you are not interested in the group if they ignore dump them

  11. Sorry but this article is just saying the ‘obvious’, what exactly was Garikai trying to say here?

  12. I’m both amused and irritated by the silliness of your article regarding WhatsApp Groups.

  13. Dear Garikai,
    I like your style of writing and i wish all techzim articles were written this way. To the guy who got irritated and amused, “Why so serious !!!” (in the Joker’s Voice). On t he whatsapp groups you took words out of my mouth i find it irritating that they haven’t fixed this issue. Like you i am a geek also and well i will leave it at that………….

  14. I dnt usually comment on such platforms but, Sir, you have got great writing skillz. enjoyed reading your piece. keep it up.

  15. I have since put another number on whatsapp not my main line and if people somehow get that one, I change again. Whatsapp is a pain but since even you admit Gogo Winnie is using it, I have to have it on my gadget. The only plus, sorry to disagree with you partly, is that I look forward to chats from fellow members of the Liverpool group that I am part of. Great writing skill Gari, 3 cheers for that.

  16. i have an ecocash app but it does not have something about Z E S A can it be updated please
    the time on our ordinary system is a bit shot you spent a lot of time trying to exercute one transaction because i do not have enough speed

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