I had to block my family online because…

“I am so sick of them WhatsApping me religious prayers and fake news from China about the coronavirus. The irony is that most of them are doctors.” 

— Mohammed, 34, Cairo 🇪🇬

“They spy on me on WhatsApp and Facebook. My cousin once asked me why my status was displayed as active on Facebook Messenger at 3 am. I was working on my thesis with my classmate…”

— Wafaa, 30, Istanbul 🇹🇷

“They’re not my friends. I only speak to my mum on WhatsApp. Any family members who need to talk to me should call me.” 

— Sipho*, 25, Johannesburg 🇿🇦

“They repeatedly complained about why I didn’t respond to their message on WhatsApp, and my explanation (I had a five-second window at work during which I read their message but couldn’t reply) wasn’t convincing enough for them.” 

— Pegor, 26, Canada via Lebanon 🇨🇦🇱🇧

“I don’t need to be patronized and chastised on WhatsApp because of my different opinions. That already happens offline!” 

— Hassan, 25, Lebanon 🇱🇧

“They were constantly spamming me on WhatsApp with 231972 minutes-long videos of random people talking for hours on end about how they figured out the question to the world and everything.” 

— Albert, 35, France via Lebanon 🇫🇷🇱🇧

“I had already spent months telling them they were sharing fake news. But they would ignore or confront me. I asked them to stop forwarding those links to the WhatsApp family group, but it didn’t work. I felt disrespected, so I left.” 

— Ana*, 36, United States via Brazil 🇺🇸🇧🇷

“My mother WhatsApped me all the time to ask where I was and what I was doing. She’d be angry if I went out and returned home late. So I moved out so I wouldn’t have to account for what I do anymore. But, whenever I saw her messages or my father’s, I would feel anxious and I couldn’t lie about where I had been…” 

— Lara*, 27, Brazil 🇧🇷

“They blamed LGBTQ people for the spread of Covid-19 whenever we chatted on KakaoTalk. They’ve always been homophobic, and we often fight during family gatherings because of that. I felt like they were using the situation as a perfect justification for their hatred against people who already have very limited rights.” 

— Chaewon, 27, United States via South Korea 🇺🇸🇰🇷

Names with * are pseudonyms because the individuals feared their families would identify them. Photographs via Getty Images.