26 & Counting: Why The General Election Ruined Whatsapp For Everyone

26 & Counting: Why The General Election Ruined Whatsapp For Everyone


by Contributor |
Published on

There’s a little ‘14’ hovering over my Whatsapp on my iPhone that I’m ignoring. It’s not that I don’t want to talk to my friends, or that I’ve fallen out of love with the app that means I get 2am voice messages of wine-fuelled warbling. I’m not physically unable to read the messages; I even know roughly what they’re saying. It’s just that, if I open that chat – if I hastily reply – I might not have any friends to sing to by next week.

There’s rarely anything that holds as much weight as a General Election to rouse a debate amongst your mates. And, like most people, I’m grateful that I have friends who are engaged and intelligent, who make me think harder about my opinions and challenge my (sometimes) reckless ranting.

Yet, for the last few weeks, the political debate has raged into a crescendo – and, for many of us, it’s not only taken over our lunchtime chat, but our 24/7 Whatsapp existence too. Needless to say, the result has not always been positive.

Now, our chat histories are full of heated disagreements and ‘stubby pencils’ and bacon-themed piggy emoticons. And though it may be all over for another five years, Whatsapp never forgets.

Because it’s all fine when you all agree – or, even if you don’t, at least pepper the conversation with pictures of baby lemurs and pleading smiley faces as my mates on one group chat did when we discovered we had polar opposite views.

Other chats did not go so well. Those little blue ticks have never looked so sinister when your friendship is hanging in the balance. Now, like me, other mates are ignoring the app entirely, trying fervently to check out of the conversation – and successfully resist the urge to respond. One has gone as far as to delete the app entirely until the incessant gloating and/or blind rage has passed.

It’s the same on Facebook, where comment threads 300 deep are dividing friends and making foes. On there, I’ve been lurking, ghosting comments, hovering over send, and then hastily deleting them. I don’t need to start any more arguments.

So despite the result, for some of us, thank goodness the election is finally over. Lucky for me, no friendships were lost and 24/7 discussions about hangover poos, weekend plans and having a collective lack of money has resumed. We need to be politically engaged to the utmost we can to ensure that each vote is informed - and debate is healthy and necessary. But next time, let’s ban the Whatsapp Soapbox. Please.

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