India's premier luxury lifestyle women's magazine
Technology
April 24, 2016

The Family That Chats With Each Other Stays Together

Text by Huzan Tata

The new-age joint family isn’t one that dines together on Sunday nights. It’s the one that keeps in touch through WhatsApp

We’re at a fine-dining restaurant for dad’s birthday.”

“What’s the cuisine?”

“Chinese”

“Chinese”

“Chinese”

“Chinese”

“In case you didn’t get it, Chinese.”

This is what an average conversation in a family WhatsApp group reads like, when five members out of eight live in the same city, and wine and dine together. Today’s joint clan isn’t one in which 11 people live in the same house and drive each other up the wall. It’s the one in which all the members are part of a WhatsApp group (or a family Facebook page — yes, they exist) where they discuss everything from intolerance in India to the third cousin’s ugly baby.

Sure, technology is a complete boon. It helps you to keep up with what’s happening in the world, to make plans with friends, be up-to-date with their love lives (through weekly changing display pictures), and even to connect with relatives settled all around the world. I love receiving pictures from my retired aunts living across the seas, of their grandchildren’s birthday parties and their travels from around the world. And sometimes we even have an intellectual discussion or two.

But we need to know where to draw the line. Do we really want to be part of groups like ‘Shining Shahs’ or ‘Lakdawalas United’ that have only been created to remind people it’s ‘granddad’s brother’s birthday’ or that ‘Sweety baby’ has come third in an intra-class singing competition? Too much of anything is harmful — especially if it’s an overdose of your family. I, for one, really needed a break from mine (both in real life and digitally) after my brother’s wedding. Not just to escape from the millions of photos of the bride and groom (which were, by the way, all exactly the same), but also to get away from images and discussions of prospective grooms the dear family found for me.

Of course, Bollywood has taught us that the family that eats together and prays together stays together (thank you, Dharma and Rajshri). But this is the digital age. There are other ways of sharing life’s joys and sorrows with loved ones — without landing up at their houses uninvited in the middle of a Sunday afternoon. And that’s what social media is for. It’s true — if your family doesn’t have a WhatsApp group, it’s not giving the Rajshri parivaar a run for its money!

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