Are we in the age of social media and internet personalities? Not influencers. Not celebrities. Just the different kinds of people you meet and speak with regularly on the internet. The kind that have their own distinct way of communicating on instant messaging and other social media platforms.
Are you an overly connected personality who is always active and ready to reply to a message or someone who finds a meme for every possible situation?
Every day, billions of messages are exchanged around the world on WhatsApp, by one unique sender to another. In India alone, WhatsApp has approximately 550 million users. Each responds individualistically, driven by characteristic traits and perhaps their “WhatsApp personality”, reveal the findings of a survey conducted between September-October by an independent agency on behalf of WhatsApp, owned by the company Meta. The results have been shared exclusively with Lounge.
The company spoke to approximately 100 regular WhatsApp users across India. Distributed across 14 cities, the majority of them were from the 20-30 age group, while the age range was 15-60. Inspired by the “Friedman and Rosenman personality-type” research, a theory developed by cardiologists Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman in the 1950s, this is what the findings reveal about behaviour on the messaging platform.
First, the type As. They are more competitive, highly organised, ambitious, impatient, highly aware of time management, aggressive.
1. The responsible fact-checker: Who always checks the facts of forwarded messages before forwarding any messages.
2. Overly connected message-r: Always active, uses voice notes, video calls, has an “always-on” urge to respond, read, react on WhatsApp
3. Group-maker: Every time someone sneezes, this user makes a group to say, “Bless you!”
4. Fastest finger first: Types at the speed of lightning. By the time the receiver is done responding to the first question or comment, she is on to her eighth.
5. The agitator: Says something disruptive to get an otherwise silent group going.
6. The teacher-preacher: Gives “gyaan” (or knowledge) to everyone, for everything. Perhaps, a “pretend” subject-matter-expert or a pundit for real. It’s hard to tell.
Then come the type Bs. Personalities that are more relaxed, less “frantic”, “receptive”.
7. Diffuser: Has the knack of keeping conversations light and fun, especially when things are getting heated or controversial.
8. The sleeping partner: Is there on groups but almost never responds or responds just about enough to remain a part of the group.
9. The photo-video studio: Her language of expression is photographs and videos. Everything is shared or responded to through photographs or videos.
10. Serial meme-r: Has a meme for every life situation (happy, funny, sarcastic, adventurous and so on).
11. The emoji queen: Responds only through emojis and “reacjis” (also known as emoji reactions). Either saves her energy, time and words or thinks it’s the safest, easiest and quickest way to communicate on WhatsApp.
12. “Good Morning” message-r: Has a “Good Morning” quote, meme, message or GIF every morning, without fail.
Around 26% of the users said they identified most with the personality of “The responsible fact-checker” (are users finally becoming wary of forwarded messages, especially fake news and misinformation?), while 22% said they were more the “overly connected message-r” type.
Meghna Mukherjee, a psychoanalytical psychotherapist at The Engaging Circle, a Noida-based center for psychoanalytical psychotherapy, says these unique voices reflect a user’s own personality. “WhatsApp allows us to project ourselves in the way we want to. It allows us to find our own expression and gives us time to respond as we would like to. With a multitude of emojis and reacjis, WhatsApp also fills the vacuum for when we may not have the appropriate words, energy or eloquence to respond. In all, everyone who is using WhatsApp has found their unique voice, which, in effect, is an extension of their own personality,” she adds in an email.
But it’s not always easy for every user to understand an emoji, a meme or the language that has become synonymous with Gen Z and millennials.
The findings of a survey, released earlier this month, by the language learning platform and app Duolingo found that more than 61% of Indians over the age of 40 feel left out when it comes to understanding Gen Z and millennial lingo such as “iykyk” (if you know, you know), “FOMO” (fear of missing out) or “sus” (short for suspect). Around 84% of Indians belonging to Gen X (42-57 years), baby boomers (58-76 years) and the “silent generation” (77-94 years) said they found it difficult to cut through modern jargon. Research for this survey was conducted by the international data and analytics group YouGov, with 1,019 Indian respondents across the country.
Only 16% of respondents said they were able to understand new-age terminology with ease. But there are some positives. Gen X and baby boomers seem to have familiarised themselves with simpler terms like “lit” (cool or exciting) and “lol” (laughing out loud). More than half (52%) of the respondents in the Duolingo survey knew what “lol” meant, while 23% of respondents knew the correct meaning of “lit”.
Also read: In LoL memes, Gen Z has found a language of dissent