WhatsApp: a journey from chat to welfare


It was the new thing, everybody wanted to be on. People will often ask “Are you on WhatsApp”?This question was often asked as if to suggest it was a taboo not to be on WhatsApp. People will move heaven and earth to just to have a smart phone so they can be on WhatsApp. This was what prevailed at the initial stages of the WhatsApp platform.

WhatsApp has been of tremendous help to the world. Communication has become easier,information dissemination has also become easier and cheaper.Almost every field of endeavor has experienced the touch of WhatsApp. There are people who have also created an office out of being group administrators. These are powerful guys on group platforms.

Just like any other social media platform, it also come with some challenges.It has become easier for ones reputation to be soiled because of the speed with which messages can be sent on the platform. There was this day that someone claimed to have the sex video of a popular Television personality. People were clamoring for it. Later, it turned out to be false. A good number of people may have ignored it because they did not want to see it but they may be carrying the notion that probably this TV personality was actually in the sex tape.

Until falsehood packaged in WhatsApp is spread abroad aboutyou, I guess you will not see that it is not funny to be put ina bad light this way.There are several other instances that the WhatsApp platform has been used against people, which is the price we may pay for being on WhatsApp. Interestingly, that is not the only price we pay.

We were told it was “free”. Yes, itis, but we often ignore the amount of money we spend to buy data. The buying of data precedes the advent of WhatsApp and so can be ignored. Thetrend that WhatsApp has brought is the payment of dues and levies by group members. This is not so common with other social media platforms.

These dues and levies have come up as a result of various welfare schemes instituted to help members in time of need and also in happy moments. The welfare scheme is usually suggested by a member of the group and with two or more enthusiastic responses, modalities of the scheme are outlined. There is no need to document anything. Everyone considers the scheme duly launched.

Members who do not agree with the introduction of such schemes are tagged as being stingy and anti social. The members who do not agree to the welfare proposals seem to be over burdened with similar commitments in churches, workplaces, old school associations and so on.

These sentiments are most of the time genuine. Even though it is not so bad an idea, mostpeople join WhatsApp for other reasons other than paying and benefitting from a welfare a scheme. Much as it comes with a lot of benefits it seems to be a bother to people.

There are a lot of people who already have financial obligations towards clubs, groups and religious organizations.On the average one is likely to spend not less than ten Ghana cedis a month meeting these obligations. The groups are already established with proven record of fulfilling their commitments to members. The difficulty with the WhatsApp group is even though members already know each other they live apart and may even not see each other often.

There are issues of accountability. Who does the checks and balances and how do members ensure their money is put to good use? Some groups have appointed executives and in some cases, ‘auditors’ to ensure things are done properly but what happens when there is an embezzlement of funds. Do you cause the arrest of the person? Who even has time to pursue such a thing? At the end of the day “by gone will be by gone.

The method of payment also is another point of disagreement. People have used their personal bank accounts and mobile money wallets to collect money and have faced opposition from some group members. The interesting aspect is those who use their mobile money wallet do not gain anything financially because members pay exactly the amount they are levied.

However, sight must not be lost on the bonding the welfare brings in addition to being members of a WhatsApp group. It is exciting to know that you can connect to old folks from the schools you attended or your neighborhood and even contribute to important events in their lives.

The existence of challenges are not good grounds to abandon a cause. Even with the additional cost ourWhatsApp groups bring we still will want to enjoy without necessarily feeling burdened.

So will you go for being part of your WhatsApp group welfare contributions or you just be a member without paying your welfare commitments. After all, it is NCNC (No contribution no chop).

By Kofi Dapaah

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