In May-2021, while India was recovering from the second wave of Chinese Coronavirus, social media had started discussing the legal battle between the Government of India and tech companies like WhatsApp and Twitter. Similar debates happened at the beginning of the year. The role of big tech companies in a democratic society was being discussed at large.

     Like most Indians, WhatsApp has been an inseparable part of my life for the last six years. However, in the recent past, I was convinced that our data might be used to manipulate public behavior by tech companies. The social media debates made me conscious about the choice of the messenger app. Since then, I have been keeping an eye on the privacy policy of WhatsApp (Facebook and Twitter, too!). In February 2021, the company had proposed to roll out its updated privacy policy but later postponed it to 15th May 2021.

     Recognizing the power of data and risks associated with the monopoly market, I decided not to accept the policy and stopped using WhatsApp from 15th May onwards. I informed my immediate contacts and confirmed that we can contact using other apps. I switched to Telegram and Signal.

     When I left WhatsApp, nobody other than my family members noticed my absence for the first few days. It has been one month (at the time of writing this post) since I uninstalled the app. Frankly speaking, I never regretted my decision. In fact, it made my life better than ever. I was no more watching status updates and last seens, not wasting time on unfruitful group chats, getting more time to focus on other activities.

     I discovered that I was hesitant to take this decision earlier because I was scared of inconvenience in sharing information (photos, contacts, files, etc.) and missing digital communication. Nothing like this happened in reality! The reason behind the convenient app switch might be my limited socialization habits. For the last one month, those who seriously wanted to communicate found ways to contact me. One significant change I have adopted over the month is calling a person upfront rather than messaging. This has notably enriched the quality of communication. Ironically, the app that was initially built to enhance our quality of communication has actually hampered it. I would not solely blame the app developers for this!

     I am happy to say that leaving WhatsApp was one of the best decisions I have made recently! Apps like ‘Clubhouse’ and ‘Discord’ have already started filling the gap that today’s social media giants have created! I find them useful for networking. Hence, if things don’t go well, I will not hesitate to leave Twitter and Facebook in the coming future!

life without whatsapp