WhatsApp added an option to chats today that allows the user to mute said chat forever. The Facebook-owned app and ecosystem previously only allowed a chat to be muted for 8 hours, 1 week, or 1 year. This was fine, sure, but what if you wanted to stay in a chat and never, ever hear a notification from the chat ever, ever again? Now that’s possible, if you dare.
WhatsApp’s become a lot like Facebook in the last few years, thanks in no small part to the acquisition of the former by the latter. Facebook started as a platform for connecting individuals attending college, but quickly became a nightmare of social decorum. Take for instance the “relationship status”: a single feature that launched thousands, if not millions of arguments between individuals between whom things could be described as… “it’s complicated.”
Now, in 2020, WhatsApp has a whole bunch of unspoken social rules that ring similar bells. If you’ve been invited to a chat, and agreed to be a part of said chat, you’re in that chat for good. You wouldn’t dare leave the chat because WhatsApp has a feature that alerts everyone in the chat that you’ve left!
It should be clear that a feature like this was built as social glue, making users feel like they NEED to stay attached, or they risk losing friends and/or associates. The only reprieve is the mute button, which allows you to avoid the chat without leaving the chat.
This situation is very similar to the Facebook Unfollow button. Back in October of 2015, we wrote about how you could cut your Facebook stress to zero with that ONE button. Unfollow everyone you do not want to see without notifying them that you were no longer going to see their content. WhatsApp will likely continue to get features like this in the future, too – half-steps that keep you stuck.