Elena wrote yesterday for the last time, at four-thirty in the morning, and today she has not yet shown signs of life; Tania is now online; Marcelino has got up early, at half past six he was already connected. It is information obtained through a mobile phone and we get it, with just a click on each of the contacts on WhatsApp. An instant messaging application that is changing the world of social relations and also causing many family crisis or tensions between friends.
The advantages of WhatsApp are obvious: “It allows to be connected anytime, anywhere,” says Francesc Núñez, a sociologist at the Open University of Catalunya. “It’s a messaging system that allows to have contact with people from our life” says Fernando Azor, psychologist and tutor at the University Camilo Jose Cela in Madrid. “It’s a great technology and its creators should be congratulated, it facilitates interaction and exchange of information in real time,” said Enrique García Huete, a psychology professor at the Complutense University of Madrid. But like any new technology, WhatsApp needs to be “domesticated” to avoid surprises. And it is that the characteristics of this new channel of communication can also cause stress or anxiety. The main change with respect to SMS messages, emails, phone calls or channels such as Twitter or Facebook, is that the WhastApp betrays the wearer. All the user’s contacts have information instantly, about the last time that someone has connected, whether it is online and can also sense whether the person who sent the message was readen.
Although it is in the relationships where psychologists have began detecting breaks (for connections after hours that can not be explained later) and obsessive behavior prompted by the use of WhatsApp.
“This is a perfect place to enhance relations in the first phase of the relationship, but then can lead to problems if one starts to become obsessed by being in constant contact with his or her partner,” says García Huete. One answer studs, when you know that the other person has received the message it may result in these cases in conflict. And also it connects to a time when the other partner believes that the loved one is doing something else. All these tracks are documented and more than one or a cheating has already been hunted for its activity in the WhatsApp.
The possibility of obtaining such information instantly is the most significant with respect to other channels such as email or telephone exchange.
The sickest phase comes, however, after the break up. “We are attending everyday more and more cases of people who months after breaking up with his or her partner still control what he or she does through WhatsApp, and that creates a lot of anguish and anxiety,” says Azor. And this control “does not take hours, as it continues to look, again and again, to see what is the last thing someone else has done”. This psychologist stresses, moreover, that the implementation of these new communication channels its going to vary future relations of many couples and make them depend on whether or not to share “interest in the use of these ways to interact.”