Culture can be defined as all the ways of life, including arts, beliefs and institutions of a population that are passed down from generation to generation. It is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behaviour, institutions, and norms found in human societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, customs, capabilities, and habits of the individuals in these groups. Overall, culture is a system of beliefs, values, and assumptions about life that guide behaviour and are shared by a group of people (Cobley, 2008). It includes customs, language, and material artefacts. These are transmitted from generation to generation, rarely with explicit instructions. Culture evolves from time to time, and so does technology. A technology that has evolved dramatically is Facebook, which was introduced over two decades ago. Facebook has since evolved into the leading force of the web, moving from a program that acted as a virtual meeting space for students to a worldwide networking force that links cultural and geographical divides. Facebook’s influence has expanded to 1.23 billion monthly users worldwide, about a sixth of the global population (Lincoln & Robards, 2014). After two decades of remarkable growth, Facebook has grown to be one of the most reliable and profitable companies, worth $135 billion. Its advancement from social originality to a critical feature of daily life continually propels its financial success.
WhatsApp, the enormously popular messaging and Voice over IP service owned by Facebook, allows users to send text messages, voice calls, voice messages, images, video calls, documents, and user location (Montag et al., 2015). WhatsApp represents one of the most significant features on smartphones worldwide. It is one of the most essential features because it allows accessible communication between people. Overall, it enables people to stay connected. WhatsApp is more attractive based on the fact that after installation, there are no costs incurred to use it, thus, proving the success of the technology (Montag et al., 2015). Also, its popularity is evident in its usage internationally and across various types of smartphones, including Android and Apple.
WhatsApp was released in 2009 by Brian Acton and Jan Koum as a chat app, a version for iOS, and in 2010, WhatsApp released an app for Android users. WhatsApp was created as an alternative to conventional text messaging, SMS (Montag et al., 2015). Fortunately, WhatsApp has proven extremely viable and efficient as it has achieved its initial goal and even more. In 2014, Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion, which was worth. Today, WhatsApp has over two billion users in over 180 countries worldwide. According to Brian Dean’s article online, more than 100 billion messages are sent daily on WhatsApp (Montag et al., 2015).
India has the most WhatsApp users compared to other countries, with about 390 million monthly active users. As such, India ranks one of the largest WhatsApp markets. In 2017, India recorded approximately 200 million monthly active users, with more than 460 million internet users (Vasudeva & Barkdull, 2020). In 2023, it is estimated that the country’s number of internet users will surpass 666 million, with more than 390 million accessing the net through their phones. India experiences a high use of social media applications due to its mobile-friendly approach. Studies show that about 29% of the country’s population are active social media users, with WhatsApp and Facebook among the most popular networking sites in India. The rise in mobile messaging application is no surprise based on the fact that the utilization of the messaging app had been rapidly increasing over the years (Vasudeva & Barkdull, 2020). While WhatsApp users emerged from urban areas, rural areas revealed a rise in the app adoption. The embrace proved true across income groups as well. However, due to the increasing social media usage, issues with the believability of the information arose and was shared through various platforms, causing a rise in cybercrime and fake news (Vasudeva & Barkdull, 2020). WhatsApp has presented a high level of penetration that it has become an almost-global mode of communication in many countries. Today, it is possible and every easy for an enterprise not embracing WhatsApp as a common communication channel to lose out on multiple potential customers eventually. In India, the penetration is not quite saturated because of the country’s high population which results into a bigger community of WhatsApp users.
WhatsApp usage in India is largely driven by the youth. India records 55% of WhatsApp users between the ages of 18 and 34.
WhatsApp often seems to be equally used by men and women; however, 31% of the users are male while 43% are female. Besides, an exploratory study research also indicates that female users are more active on WhatsApp and uses its features more abundantly than male users (Vasudeva & Barkdull, 2020). This statistic includes the time spent on alternating profile pictures, being active in groups and putting up statuses.
Although not all Mexicans have access to the internet or to a mobile device or computer, several million do. In recent years, the number of social network users has increased exponentially. Also, online business has seen a huge increase in recent years. Mexicans are adapting to new technologies and making these technologies tools as a part of everyday life. Mexico is in the 5th place of the countries with most WhatsApp users in the world (Cruz & Harindranath, 2020). WhatsApp it is the second most popular social media after Facebook and the most popular messaging application in Mexico. According to the Federal Telecommunications Institute of Mexico, which conducted a nationwide survey with 15,136 participants, WhatsApp is the most widely used messaging application in the country. Approximately 75.5% of mobile Internet consumers in Mexico use WhatsApp. Mexico has 62.3 million WhatsApp users.
According to a study by UNAM, 42.64% of WhatsApp users live in the central area of the Mexico and the majority of WhatsApp users are young people between 21 and 30 years of age (Cruz & Harindranath, 2020). Something that I found interesting that WhatsApp is the most popular digital app for Mexicans over 50 years old, is the only age group in which WhatsApp is more popular than Facebook. Older people find super easy to use WhatsApp.
In Mexico, social media is mostly used are women, with 66.67%. In a 2019-2020 study there was a technical tie with men, “they were at 50% use.” A study published by the Universidad Autonoma of Mexico indicates that Mexicans use WhatsApp for up to four hours a day.
I come from a small town in Mexico. We have a community WhatsApp group which we use to share news, to sell things, to stay in touch with each other. The group has played a significant role in bringing the community members close. Even though not everyone knows the other, we share things that unite us as a community in the group and get the opportunity to meet other people. the WhatsApp group has made it possible for us as a community to value each other regardless of our differences in age and gender. It is a safe space for both male and females, and young and old to voice out their opinions without discrimination. I love WhatsApp group because it exposes me to meeting new people, getting new ideas, a chance to give my opinion, and opportunities to be innovative and creative. Moreover, WhatsApp has really played a significant role in education. During the pandemic, I was in Mexico and WhatsApp was essential, schools used this application to stay in touch, also through this app the teachers shared the assignments with the students and the students turned in the photos of assignments through WhatsApp. The community group made it even more serious as parents, teachers, and students could remind each other of what they expect each other to do, which promoted accountability.
While WhatsApp has grown in prominence, it is not used in some countries for various reasons. For instance, the Chinese government banned in 2017 because it is considered noncompliant. The government banned the app due to its end-to-end encryption which prevents them from reading messages sent via the app (Segal, 2016). As such, while people use WhatsApp to send messages to their families, friends, and groups, people in China do not do that. If anyone in China wants to use the app, they would need to get around the block. As an alternative for WhatsApp, China uses WeChat, a common messaging app in the country, for iOS, Android, Windows, and macOS.
For a very long time now, my life has been accustomed to using social media for several reasons. Whatever activity I engage in, I must use social media somehow. WhatsApp has become part of me such that I cannot spend an hour without checking it out. My life revolves around WhatsApp because the app has connected me to very many people and presented me to multiple opportunities. WhatsApp enables me to communicate with my friends and family spread all over the world and I cannot even start to imagine how hard it would be not to use WhatsApp. I would have no other efficient way to communicate with others in different parts of the country and world. While other platforms like Facebook are also available, I believe WhatsApp to be more reliable because of the instant responses it provides, unlike Facebook, which someone might take several weeks to respond. I cannot imagine living in a community without a WhatsApp group like the one my community has. The community group does not only consist if people within the country but people who moved to other countries yet they are still significant in our community. It is hard to imagine being not able to communicate with people from other countries, especially if they are family and friends. Overall, it is hard for me to imagine life without WhatsApp because it has become a culture.
Cobley, P. (2008). Culture: Definitions and concepts. The International Encyclopedia of Communication.
Cruz, E. G., & Harindranath, R. (2020). WhatsApp as’ technology of life’: reframing research agendas. First Monday.
Lincoln, S., & Robards, B. (2014). 10 years of Facebook. New Media & Society, 16(7), 1047-1050.
Montag, C., Błaszkiewicz, K., Sariyska, R., Lachmann, B., Andone, I., Trendafilov, B., … & Markowetz, A. (2015). Smartphone usage in the 21st century: who is active on WhatsApp?. BMC research notes, 8(1), 1-6.
Segal, A. (2016). China, Encryption Policy, and International Influence. Hoover Institution.
Vasudeva, F., & Barkdull, N. (2020). WhatsApp in India? A case study of social media related lynchings. Social Identities, 26(5), 574-589.