It seems so millennial, and such a trivial thing to glorify. But I actually have reason to believe that “group chats” are one of the best things to come out of the digital age.
I actually feel blessed that I was just on the cusp of growing up without social media. Secondary school was hard enough with only msn, ask fm and waiting at the bus stop to deal with. The ease of confrontation and judgement of Instagram must be unbearable at the age of 15. I’m sure that being a teenager in 2018 is pretty fucking terrifying.
But one thing that I do applaud is the phenomenon of group messaging. It embodies everything that social media set out to be, before it became tainted by patriarchal imagery and endless comparison: or simply as a means of time wasting. Group chat creates an imagined community in which you exist with those not close to you (physically). I have so many notable group chats on my phone, that keep me connected, updated and entertained at some point in the day, every day.
My friends from school, that I’ve known since I was 11. There’s only three of us, we battled our way through the bullies, boys and booze and came out the other end knowing who our real friends were. We use this group mainly for planning, constant organising of when we’re free to next meet at some common ground. Occasionally, we indulge in gossip of people that we used to know, sharing screen shots and passing unwanted judgement.
Then there’s my second lot of school friends (I moved schools for sixth form because I couldn’t stand the mean girls: noted at one time I was a mean girl but when the tables turned I couldn’t handle it). Our group chat is called SQUAD, because we saw Nadia Rose live, like once. Anna, Canadian and butt of all jokes, the biggest heart and even bigger boobs. Chloe, a little nymph, mysterious with a laugh more contagious that le common cold. And then Emily, who you know from Laptop gate, like Cher, mean but beautiful. We use our group chat to abuse each other, give words of wisdom in crisis and once again gossip about people both famous or from our school days. Most recently, it’s been a place for advice, “What the fuck do I write for my next blog?”
*I’m beginning to see a correlation with these group chats so far, lot’s of gossip. Does everyone do this or is it just me and my friends? I know its narcissistic of me, but I just can’t help but think, how many group chats have I been bitched about in?! I hope at least one. Please get in touch if you’ve ever spoken about me in a group chat, good or bad, just to feed my ego.
The best example that I have of a group chat, is my netball group. Sounds dull and usually used for match times, ‘sorry I’m not training because…’, complaining about a hangover or sending a picture of your not so empty bed the morning after the night before. But when it surpassed all of these trivial issues, is when one of us needed help.
One of the girls had been at pre drinks, taken something and started throwing up, feeling faint etc. She put an SOS message in our group chat, knowing that at least one of us would be in or around New Cross. Within 20 minutes two of the girls were by her side, holding her head, forcing water down her throat before tucking her into bed. The rest of us sent messages until we knew she was okay, rang to speak to the girls with her, and went to bed knowing she would be fine, if a little groggy in the morning. Not only is this proof that group message can be more than gossip and scheduling but it reinforces the idea that right there at your fingertips, you have a community.
I’ve never felt so proud to be a part of a group, a sisterhood all devout in checking their messages and supporting each other through all the good times and the bad times. It seems so silly but I’m an advocate of this “group message” community. Long may it continue. Long may we have a place to send embarrassing photos of ourselves and other people, to confess when we’ve made a mistake or a bad decision and need help in solving it urgently, in asking what clothes look good or bad for a Saturday night, who’s home for dinner and “do you need anything from the shop”. In times of need and desperation a place where one message sends to 12 people, or in times of jubilation, spread the news, the love, the gossip. Whatever, I love it.