Family Chats An all-new family institution.

Family Chats An all-new family institution.

Issue 42

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Arts & Culture

  • Words John Ovans
  • Photograph Gustav Almestål
  • Andreas Frienholt

Lately, visiting my parents sets my teeth on edge. Both are 70, progressively harder of hearing and prolific WhatsApp users. These elements combined mean that they have their phone notifications turned to extra loud, the noise clanging throughout the house and aggressively cutting through moments of peace. Mom marauds about with her iPhone dangling from her neck on a lanyard, shout-dictating into it as if she were sending a telegram in the 1920s: “LOVELY TO SEE YOU. PERIOD. ALL WELL HERE. PERIOD. KISS KISS. PERIOD.”

It’s no surprise that in March 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, WhatsApp saw a 40% jump in usage. Even my aunt, a lifelong Luddite who once had to be persuaded to even get a phone, decided to acquiesce in the absence of other options during the lockdowns. Tho...

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