Blog 11: Story Treatment

“When You Can Never Leave Your WhatsApp or Facebook Group”

“Do you agree to the Terms of Service?”

I took a cursory look at the Terms of Service:
1.) Use respectful language.
2.) Be respectful of others.
3.) No profanity.

Blah, blah, blah. I quickly clicked, Accept. I wanted to be part of a social community during a period of isolation (quarantine, shelter-in-place, and stay-at-home). I wanted to stay connected to my neighbors.

Wow, 127 messages today. Were these messages essential or relevant to me? During the first few weeks of the quarantine, there were numerous forwarded messages from BuzzFeed, the New York Post, and foreign newspaper sources. As an English teacher, I thought, Didn’t their teachers teach them the difference between credible sources and fake news? During the next two weeks, there were discussions on time slots for grocery deliveries and some conversation on supporting local restaurants. Interspersed throughout the thread, I read with horror the COVID numbers in town: 87, 76, 45, 31. When are these positive cases going to decline? Why are the numbers not declining when people are working from home, and children are learning remotely? What else could we do? Where are the vulnerable spots in our town? There were also numerous photo-ops with local politicians delivering meals to the local hospital.

Now, it is now Week 7; I want to leave the group. I checked the app usage on my iPhone ad realized that this new WhatsApp Group is consuming a lot of my data. Time to leave.

So, I clicked, Leave.

“Alert! Alert! LINDA PHAM at 666 Lovely Court Left!”

Automatically, the WhyAreYouLeaving App was activated. My phone vibrated.

A couple of minutes later, I got a private message from the Group Administrator, The Taj Mahal, who wrote, “Linda, why did you leave the group? We want you to rejoin the group.”

I was a little startled since I was able to freely leave other social media groups without getting a message asking me to rejoin.

I slowly typed a reply to Taj, “I was getting tired of the fake news and the name-calling.” (Yes, I forgot to mention some members of this 242-strong group would call each other “losers,” which happens to be the same colloquialism that my high school students would use on each other. I had it!)

“Okay, Linda, we are working to stop the fake news and the name-calling. Here is the link to rejoin.”

I did not rejoin.

Then I went to leave my Facebook group when an alert popped up on my account.

“Alert! Facebook has been notified that you had left the Wakeup Netizen Whatsapp Group. Your account will be temporarily locked until we conduct an investigation. Refer to Case #1234567. “

What? WhatsApp contacted Facebook to inform them that I had left their group! A couple of minutes later, my sister and my neighbor texted me to ask, “Why did you leave the Whatsapp Group? Why didn’t you rejoin? You do not like us anymore? You do not want to be part of this community? They are all talking about you on the group chat.”

What! Word of my departure from the group spread quickly throughout all the social media sites. The next morning, my boss called me, “Good morning, Linda. I regret to inform you that you have been transferred…”

To Be Continued.

2 replies on ““When You Can Never Leave Your WhatsApp or Facebook Group””

This is already well developed into a plot, Linda. And I like the suggestion that acts of leaving is data being transferred, with the hint at the end of a next level consequence.

Some services really make you go through these “are you sure” steps when you leave (e.g. Facebook, and they keep offering to keep your account; difference between deactivating and deleting). I recently closed an account (after getting suckered in my automatic move to a paid account from the trial account), and it took literally 5 click through screens of offers before it happened.

You might consider other tactics Taj and the like might try to pull you back in.

A small detail- on your NetMirror Plot card, the summary should not include “I” as it ought to suggest a character, it should be third person. Maybe something like “Most people click I Agree without reading the fine print.” and “When a tired teacher tried to leave a group, she…”

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