December 19, 2022

Gendered Impact of Technology: Post Event Commentary

I've spent some time considering the differences between my WhatsApp departure and my husband's WhatsApp departure, and I am starting to wonder whether the disparate reactions are indicative of a larger disparate gendered impact of smartphone technology for women. 

One thing I noticed when leaving WhatsApp (and social media) was the massively reduced time costs of post-event commentary.

After group events I would often find myself running through streams of messages and photos from the event - all appreciative - all wonderful - and all taking up time.

The problem with this approach is that any event cannot be experienced for what it is - it's experienced for what it will be after.  After enjoying the company of friends we then enjoy reflecting on our enjoyment through WhatsApp.  Sharing photos of what transpired that day is friendly and nice, but it's also highly gendered.

Men do not spend the post-event hours sharing photos of their kids.  They don't thank friends in the group for their amazing cupcakes or lovely home.  They enjoy an event, and then finish it.

Andy never messages his mountain biking buddies after a ride to say how well they all did.

With WhatsApp, the post event message was almost obligatory.  I know this might make me sound crotchety or unkind - but I've realized that every message we send is a moment of our time and a fraction of our headspace.  Finishing an event with a series of social messages, as nice as they feel at the time, still takes up our valuable time.  It's also expected of us, and the idea of not doing it would be exceptionally odd.

So perhaps, in this post, my gendered use of WhatsApp links directly to our gendered use of time.  However, the creep of WhatsApp obligation has gone relatively unnoticed.  I never realized Andy didn't send post event messages, and I never noticed how much time I spent doing it, but once I was off WhatsApp it became more apparent that I was missing something and his life remained the same.

When I thought about it I realized I was missing out on the recaps, and perhaps some photos of my kids, but I wasn't missing it.  I was instead far more appreciate of the event itself, the limited time I had to spend with my friends, and making the most of the minutes I was in.  

Without Social Media I didn't need to, or get to, re-live time.  Because of this, I try to enjoy that time much more.


  1. Yes, yes, yes.

    This: "Men do not spend the post-event hours sharing photos of their kids. They don't thank friends in the group for their amazing cupcakes or lovely home. They enjoy an event, and then finish it."

    So true.

    While I like to share photos of an event with friends (I'm not on Facebook/Instagram, so texting is the messaging vehicle for me), it also does feel like an obligation. There are so many little examples of gender role discrepancies that add up into HUGE time commitments in totality. More than anything, though, it's the mental burden. It's another tab open in our mental processing environment and it can so easily lead to overwhelm.

    Excellent post and so much food for thought.

    1. Thanks! I'm so interested to get feedback on this as it's something I've spent a lot of time thinking about. I feel bad saying "social interaction is an obligation" but it definitely took a lot of time...

  2. My husband and I are both in books clubs. His is all men and mine is all women. I asked my husband recently if one of his friends from book club had children and he stared at me for a long time before finally admitting that he did not know because they very rarely talk about children at their book club. And I'd say complaining about husbands is 25% of our conversation, kids are another 25%, the book is 25%, and the rest of the conversation is a grab bag. It's crazy because if my husband's book club doesn't complain about wives and children, I have to wonder what exactly they do talk about!

    1. What an interesting insight. I also feel I know pretty well who has kids and who doesn't in most social events, and I'm generally surprised when my husband will come home now knowing if someone is single/married/with kids... "it just didn't come up" he'll say. Maybe my conversation gambits are lacking...?

  3. Amazing observation, Rachel. I think I never thought of it, but yes, women are way more involved in Whatsapp conversations than men (that is even true in our relatively small "family whatsapp group"... while I'd like to think (because my family is far away) that I just use it as a tool to connect more often, I noticed that the guys in the family spent a lot less time responding.
    Mmh. Food for thought.

  4. Indeed interesting. I agree with San, in our WhatsApp family group the male members don't really interact that much. But then we are a female majority and some are not too tech savvy or better texting savy.

    As in regards to post event obligations. I wouldn't really say that I need to write/text afterwards. this would be an exception. So maybe it is also depending on country (?), character (?)...