When being connected to your family makes you want to move to Antarctica…
We have all been there, I am sure. You are part of a family messaging group on WhatsApp or Facebook and sometimes it seems like being part of this is actually slightly polarising you all rather than bring you closer together. So how can you deal with all the family niggles, feeling left out of the ‘in’ jokes and the constant slew of pressure that comes from the family forum?
1> LOST IN TRANSLATION
Ever had times when you have received a message or a reply to one sent that seems very off-hand, almost rude? It is at times like these that it is good to remember that people are constantly in a rush. So your well thought out message of “how is your day going? Everything good with you.?” may be met with a curt “yep” may be simply as a result of lack of time. Perhaps your Sister is at work and quickly messaged back or risk forgetting completely. We have all been there.
You also can not gauge tone through messages. What was meant in a funny way by the sender, could be met with distain and even hurt by the recipient. I have often said things through text to my family that I intended as funny, only to be met with anger. Humour through text is very hard to read…however emojis can help sometimes to alleviate this, just be careful not to accidently send the aubergine one to your Gran!
If you have family members that question your life choices, sexuality, career prospects or anything else that you just don’t feel comfortable discussing in a group, make sure you take them aside (either in person or in a separate message) and politely discuss with them what you are, and aren’t willing to talk about. If you are really badass you could always say this on the family group, but it may distressing to those of the group that don’t keep up with every message and have no idea why their second cousin is writing in caps “I AM NOT COMFORTABLE DISCUSSING THIS!!!”
3> THE NON- INVITE HEARTBREAK
Now this is a tough one to handle because it needles directly at our sense of belonging, which is why we joined the family messaging group in the first place right? You open the group to find your family happily chatting about the event they are all going to next Saturday, what time they are meeting, who is providing the food? Hold on, have you forgotten? Nope. you haven’t been invited. Which is fine because technically you live 300 miles away and it is such short notice….but still, an invite is always nice. Now try and not take this one to heart. You don’t invite every single person you know to everything you do, do you? So let it go. Or get even and throw an epic party just for you and your cats and don’t invite a single one of them! (Who are you tying to kid, that is a normal Saturday night for you anyway.)
4> MUTE, DON’T SHOOT!
My last bit of advice for navigating the dangers of the family messaging group is…do not leave, but mute. if you leave a group in a mood, people will automatically wonder what is wrong and maybe that is your intention, after all we all need a little extra attention at times. (me, not so much..HA!) BUT you will only look like a bit of an idiot when you ask your Auntie to add you back into the group and carry on like nothing ever happened. So, the solution is mute the group. You can stop receiving any messages or notifications about the group on most messaging platforms. It can work wonders if you need a cooling off period.
After all is said and done, a family messaging group can be a wonder and a disaster at the same time, pretty much like a normal family in a face to face environment. But for families who don’t have the access to face to face relations very often, it is a wonderful life-line and a way to connect. I love to see photographs of my Brothers’ travels and what cake my Sister made at the weekend. Cherish it.