Almost everybody who is reading this post would be a member of at least one WhatsApp chat
group. These chat groups are of two types: Either like-minded people form a group or individuals from entirely different backgrounds, who happen to come together at one place, by sheer coincidence, make up a group, like class fellows, colleagues etc. The group where like-minded people interact is likely to last for a longer period of time, whereas the other group generally loses its steam much early. Let us call the former, a natural group, the later can be called an artificial group.
A year ago, I was included in a WhatsApp group comprising my school fellows. A few days later I was also part of a WhatsApp group consisting of my classmates from University days. Later, I was also a member of a WhatsApp group made up of my colleagues from different service groups. All these were artificial groups.
Now what happens in artificial groups is that people do share common experiences in a specific time period. For example, everybody would recall common teachers, would be curious to discuss the school environment, would be inquisitive about the current whereabouts of class fellows never heard about since, who had a crush on which female teacher, so on and so forth. It would also feel nostalgic to remember Peri cola and samosa chat available at the school canteen. Similarly, who died and who lives where, interests group members. But all these common denominators are quickly exhausted and group members begin to appear what they have become over the years.
At this later stage, almost all members have comprehensively developed various interpersonal skills, religious/ political preferences, liberal or conservative worldview, so on and so forth. It is at this point that individual differences begin to surface, often leading to soft and sometimes hard interactions. As a consequence, sub-groups emerge out of the main group and lines are drawn. In the event of a hard exchange, members chat outside the group and discuss about the conduct of various members like who was at fault and who was the “victim” who “endured” the “onslaught.” As a few group members are very active and majority is “slow”, the active members begin to dominate by posting most of the stuff.
Due to individual differences, sometimes, “clashes” are so severe that members begin to abandon the group. Finally, only a few like-minded are left and the artificial group becomes a natural group.
On the other hand, natural groups are more enduring as group members agree on some basic premises.
What I have observed is that in this society, majority of group members, no matter how successful they are otherwise in life, do not develop the ability to think logically and critically. They simply reproduce what the school textbook taught them or what the state media inculcated in their minds. Second, highly qualified group members cannot write a single correct sentence either in English or Urdu. Third, almost all group members share posts made by others and personal input is almost zero. Finally, majority do not know how to interact in a decent and civilized manner. Remember, we are talking about the elite of the society and not the uneducated lot.
I have reached at the conclusion, that it is good to be a part of an artificial group for sometime but soon it becomes a source of constant stress and renders more pain than relief. Hence, I feel that natural groups provide greater comfort, they educate and entertain and bring you closer to your true companions.