By A Special Correspondent
First publised on 2020-02-08 13:35:17
We are hearing a lot about the so-called WhatsApp University nowadays. When PM Modi passed off an alleged fake news quote as one made by Omar Abdullah, the Congress was quick to respond that it happens with people who have a WhatsApp University degree. Some commentators have also referred to the WhatsApp University for doling out misinformation or 'targeted information' to sway uninitiated people.
So what exactly is this institution that is being talked about so much? Does it exist or has it been imagined by an overactive mind? Who are its professors and students? What does it take to get admitted and what does one pay for it?
WhatsApp University is the 'storehouse of information' that is digitally transmitted through the popular chat app WhatsApp. It does exist and is very real. It professors are the self-styled gurus who believe they are know-alls and its junior professors are those who forward or share their 'pearls of wisdom'. Since its power was discovered, organized sub-universities have been put in place by political parties, companies and other interested organizations where paid professors flood the syllabus with targeted and often fake information. Its students are those who are either uneducated or have put their formal education on the rack to unhesitatingly believe all that is put out on the platform. It just takes a smartphone and an internet connection to get admitted to this university, although sometimes it also takes an invitation or acceptance from an administrator of a group. All one pays is for the internet connection and of course one has to suspend all belief and become a no-brainer.
But what does one get in return? In this digital age, when one is flooded with a sea of information, WhatsApp, for some, becomes a trusted source mainly because they feel that since the information comes from friends and acquaintances (F&A), it must be true. But they forget that none of the F&A's create the content themselves. Almost all of it starts from a mischievous source and is handed down through transfers and forwards. WhatsApp forwards are almost always fake or mischievous and to believe and act on them is putting oneself in great danger. Yes, one can laugh at the funny memes or get irritated with the stale jokes but to believe 'lessonsâ of history' or 'breaking news' is to make a mockery of one's educated self. Hence, God help those who have made it the mission of their life to be certified by WhatsApp University.