Why Do People Forward Messages On WhatsApp?

Whenever someone finds a message to be beneficial or appealing, they share it instantly with multiple people.
Forwarding Messages on WhatsApp

It is no new knowledge that people spend most of their time on WhatsApp. WhatsApp is primarily built as a simple, secure, and reliable way to message other people. Messaging is by its nature private. People working in different areas, including government entities, political parties, college students, homemakers, and office goers, communicate on WhatsApp for the major part of their day.

We, as students, rely heavily on WhatsApp for major communication regarding our assignments, work, or getting an update regarding anything. Moreover, looking at the times of the COVID-19 Pandemic, WhatsApp has become the most preferred go-to source for communication, staying in touch, and getting work done, as deduced by new data from insights and consulting firm Kantar. According to a survey of more than 25,000 consumers in 30 markets conducted from March 14 to 24, WhatsApp is the social media app that has experienced the greatest gains due to COVID-19.

Overall, Facebook-owned WhatsApp has seen a 40% increase in usage that grew from an initial 27% bump in the earlier days of the pandemic to 41% in the mid-phase. For countries already in the later phase of the pandemic, WhatsApp usage has jumped by 51%. 

On an average people on WhatsApp participate in 63-65 conversations per day, according to a February 2018 study on WhatsApp Usage Patterns and Prediction Models without Message Content by Avi Rosenfeld and colleagues for Israel’s Bar-llan University. These conversations could be on a one-on-one basis or as a part of a larger group.

The common trend that I have seen, however, is the trend of forwarding messages, especially in the family groups. Family groups are one of the most active groups I have ever come across. They lead in the “fastest finger first” game of sending messages. My mother has been a “super active” member in our family group, along with my relatives and extended family members. 

The constant ping of message notifications and the variety of topics covered amaze me. From jokes to news (fake or real, and the sources and authenticity for which is undetermined), motivational quotes to sher-o-shayeri, birthday messages to celebratory pictures, trolling pictures to political takes on things. The constant ping and number of messages in the group have literally forced me to put the group on “mute.” 

There is a huge spectrum of the messages forwarded:

  • Factual and Harmless
    Factual news, incident updates, film/sport/pop culture clips
  • Creative and Harmless
    Good morning, motivation quotes, sher-o-shayeri
  • Harmless but Fake
    Startling trivia from history, politics and mythology
  • Potentially Harmful
    Medical advice, health tips, natural therapies
  • Harmful and Toxic
    Trolling and jingoistic (characterized by extreme patriotism, especially in the form of aggressive or warlike foreign policy) propaganda
  • Harmful and Fatal
    Localized rumours – warning against child-lifters/robbers/organ thieves

The messaging app WhatsApp, while announcing its five-forwards limit on 20 July 2018, described India as a country “where people forward more messages, photos, and videos than any other country in the world”. See, I told you, leaders in the “fastest finger first”!

Although, something that I find very “ironic” is that no WhatsApp group (or at least the ones that I am part of) has established “rules of behaviour/conduct,” something that would be VERY useful in preventing the saturation of digital trash, memes and senseless/useless debates that only cause negative reactions and, sometimes, even hurt people’s feelings.

Is this true? Where or from whom did you hear about this? Did you see this yourself? Were you there when this happened? These are just some basic questions that one should ideally ask the sender of information on WhatsApp before they decide to hit on the forward button themselves, but it a practice that is rarely followed.

While I was thinking about this topic, I thought “Why do people forward messages?” “What is the motive behind it?” “What do they get out of it?” I started researching about it and found there exists a term called the PISH (Pride In Sharing Forwards) Behaviour. The generic belief is if the message is electronic, it must be true. Thus, whenever someone finds a message to be beneficial or appealing, they share it instantly with multiple people. While a lot of content might be accurate, the unhealthy amount of fake messages with questionable accuracy is a matter of concern. 

Now, my WhatsApp is constantly buzzing, so I’d like to take your leave and check what new information I am getting, till then you think about it and let us know if you have ever been in a similar situation (which I am sure you must have been) and what kind of interesting messages you get to read. 

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