How WhatsApp has stolen young people's time

Living in the 21st century has got a lot of perks to it, most of which include having almost everything simplified. From transport to communication, research to money transfers - all this is very simple due to advances in technology.

Living in the 21st century has got a lot of perks to it, most of which include having almost everything simplified. From transport to communication, research to money transfers – all this is very simple due to advances in technology.

Science has somehow found a way of solving many of our day to day needs so easily and at a very small cost. One good example is the WhatsApp application. Since its invention in 2009 this application has attained more than 600 million subscribers within a period of only six years.

As much as I would love to delve deeper in to the details of how this amazing application works, I’d rather we looked how it has simplified life.

It is basically all about affordable communication through instant text messaging - and anyone that has it knows very well that it is an efficient tool. However there’s always a price to pay especially with something so efficient and yet so cheap.

This application has had many Rwandans grow very fond of it, mainly because of its efficiency as a communication tool.

Comedians and advertisers among many others have taken a special liking to it. Friends and family can keep tabs on one another, even when outside of each other’s reach.

Also aside from the fact that it is user friendly, it is very informative and will spread a message to as many people as possible within a really short time.

The question however looms, how something that was initially designed to simplify life ends up complicating and ruining it?

This social media platform seems to have a good number of people hooked to its charms.

How? You may ask. Well, many students especially those at the university -the ones allowed to have phones unlike their secondary and primary school peers - have found it very distracting. Once they deem a particular lecture to be too boring, their phones replace their notebooks as they chatter away.

This level of worthless destruction caused by WhatsApp not only applies to students but to many other people, even those with jobs - hence making something initially intended for communication - a distraction.

Before mobile applications like WhatsApp came into existence, the only time you had to check your phone was when you received a call or the usual SMS (short text message), which for most wasn’t so many times a day. Now the only reason you have for not remaining glued to your phone is a low battery.

Friendships have been affected when someone sends a WhatsApp text and they don’t receive an instant reply, simply because they saw you online – or assume that you ignored them since their sent text was ticked “blue”.

Regardless of whether you are busy or not busy, your failure to reply would mean you are ignoring the person who texted you.

As if that’s not enough, belonging to many WhatsApp “groups” is proving to be very disturbing when initially it was intended for good reasons.

The creators of these groups will not bother consulting you on whether they can add you and when you leave the group, you come off as the stuck up one.

There is also the very annoying habit of people constantly checking their text messages as you talk to them rendering whatever you say pointless in comparison to whatever it is they are reading.

One could think of many ways in which this invention has complicated life today but it would be absurd to blame everything including our indiscipline on a mere application.

The interesting part about this app is that it is so good you almost never notice the complications until you notice you’ve spent more than half a day chatting. It then becomes safe to say that WhatsApp is more or less a necessary evil considering how efficient and how distracting it can be.

In the end however, when you look closely, the problem is not with WhatsApp but with the discipline and virtues of the user.

The author is a student at University of Rwanda, College of Science and Technology

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