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imaginative, updating their image regularly and including humorous or thought-provoking quotes. Its greatest appeal is its simplicity. Unlike other forms of social media such as Facebook, WhatsApp is uncluttered and uncomplicated. The user does not log in, and as soon as you add a contact, they are available (as long as they have downloaded the application).

An added feature is that threads can be emailed. This can be a double- edged sword as confidential information can be shared at the click of a button. Further drawbacks in using this type of messaging include: cybercrime, with your account being hacked into and information appropriated or worse, your identity stolen. It can also be a distraction as you might interrupt other activities to check and respond to messages. WhatsApping can also be highly addictive as it seems more socially acceptable for individuals to be engaging with each other through their phones rather than face to face.

Despite these limitations, communicating through this medium is a fun, trendy way to engage - to be part of an online community, even forming 'groups'. Connecting with each other via WhatsApp involves the forging of trust that confidences will be held. You can communicate surreptitiously, unlike speaking over the phone - useful in an intimate space such as the staffroom.

I find the silence that exists on trains quite disconcerting, for often these are times when internal dialogues rage within. Reaching out to a trusted confidant, allows me to make sense of that turmoil. Unsurprisingly, the person at the other end is often experiencing similar issues. Often these exchanges are akin to conducting a forensic analysis of teaching practice; venting frustrations (both personal and work-related); sharing encouraging words and drawing strength from each other.

Hence, I have realised that my initial reticence in using a messaging service has morphed into something else, for I have begun to view my mobile phone as multifaceted. It is now not only a device reserved for checking emails and making the occasional call, it is a tool - with WhatsApp as a portal through which I have self- expression. This mode of expression is both generative and liberating, for I can be myself - using the language in subversive and deviant ways, enjoying the fluidity this brings. For instance, not engaging in abbreviated text talk; bringing my faith into the professional domain and of course, 'chat mi patois'. These exchanges serve not only to lift my flagging spirits but allow me to articulate my innermost thoughts without a single utterance.

Using a messaging service to communicate with others can often be considered as a disembodied experience, tapping away on your keypad in solitude. However, this exchange bridges time and space offering nurturance, advice, encouragement (sometimes rebuttals) - often used as a confessional or a space for ranting. Whatever the reason for connecting with others, WhatsApp enables me to contextualise the gritty reality of working in a chaotic sector where you are often at best, 'thrown in at the deep end' or at worst given the proverbial basket to carry water. Using this medium as a critical lens, allows me to draw on exchanges from an everyday activity that could be considered mundane and even trivial, gaining a fresh perspective. Through these exchanges via WhatsApp, I am reminded that there is a network of colleagues who value the importance of social interaction, and show a generosity of spirit that leaves you feeling supported and empowered.


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