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Every Single Group Chat Sucks

WhatsApp: bad, group text: awful, Facebook Messenger: absolutely terrible.
banter whatsapp group
Photo: VICE

1. Every single group chat in the world sucks. It sucks! You know this, but you will not admit this. There has never been a good six-way conversation in all of civilised human history, and technology is not going to change that now. I will admit: I am in group chats, more than one (group chats are an inescapable facet of life and/or friendship! It is impossible not to be in one! It doesn’t mean they’re good!). I have had fun in group chats. I have had times when I have appreciated group chats being there. Do you remember the day that video of those people fucking at Hackney Downs station during the commuter rush went around the group chats? That was, simply, an astonishing day. I got to the nearest roof top and paid my thanks to the sun, the only god I know. "Thank you, yellow sun," I said, squinting into the fire. "Thank you for group chats, public shaggers, your gift and your bounty." This does not excuse every single other minute of group chat I have had to endure, before or since. The rutting day was a blip. It was a light that proved the existence of shadows.


2. There are three types of group chat, as best I can tell, and though I want to make it clear one particular strain of group chat is infinitely worse than the other two, I also want to be very firm when I say: they are all, still, very very bad. Your group chats are these:

i. A group chat where you are bound together with the people inside it by proximity. This includes:

– Your family, who you are directly related to by blood (your family group chat normally consists of your mum quietly burbling about a TV show she is watching and nobody else is currently watching; occasionally, once every eight months or so, your dad will remember how emoji work and go on a big long run of them; the rest of the time the family group chat is a complicated tool your parents use to tempt you into writing down a swear word then telling you off for writing down a swear word).

– Everyone on your floor at halls, who for a year you have to endure ("Kitchen roll in shower again?? Why??").

– Every single access code-holder in the small block you signed up to live in around Hoxton, to whom you are contractually obliged to stay in contact with in case someone plays silly dickhead with the recycling again ("Hi guys, cheerful reminder: been noticing a lot of you have been putting milk bottle lids in the green bags again, which as we discussed can lead to refuse not being collected. Please be mindful in the futche.").


– Your five-a-side team.

– Everyone who has ever played ringer for the Monday night quiz at the pub by your old house ("Please stop re-adding me, Jake" "MEET @ 5PM NEED TWO GOT SPORT COVERED NEED SOMEONE ON MOVIES MUSIC OR GEOGRAPHY").

– The annoying, mostly derelict work group you only ever go into to provide public transport updates explaining why you are late.

All of these group chats are poisons slowly leaking into your veins.

ii. The group chat you started in good faith with the friends you love the most but slowly – and you might not have noticed it yet, but it is coming – the sparkling banter you share in real-life and that you were so confident you could translate to a sort of rolling boil in a group chat is starting to fade, and the jokes aren't quite flowing in the same way as they used to, are they, and occasionally when you're on a roll someone interrupts it with something really abrupt and pragmatic – "Anyone know what USB-C is? Got a speaker thing here but it won’t charge" – and basically the best group chats are built on a very simple skeleton of "mercilessly ripping the absolute everloving shit out of each other", but then occasionally that is getting interrupted with "is £80 a month a lot for an energy bill? I know it’s electric and gas combined but this seems a bit high", and that anti-patter is leaking into your real-world interactions, the friendship group you once had and loved and relied on is now leaked into and toxic because of the group chat, and you bump into one of them by chance in the outside world and— yeah, OK, I guess we can go for a pint, but only one— and then you realise maybe you should invite the rest of the GC, now at least 40 percent of the chat is here— and you take a selfie of the two of you, high flash, and as you type it out into the WhatsApp screen "masque haunt, old st, come thru" you see your hollow eyes stare back at you through the screen, and there is a perceptible lack of joy inside the bruise-dark pools of them—


iii. Group chats set specifically up to organise something, which are the worst things invented in all of living history.


Photo: Emily Bowler

3. Hen nights, stag parties, a minibus hired to drive to an out-of-town wedding, baby showers, 30th birthday parties for overly dramatic people, a group trip to Amsterdam: these are the group chats you are locked in and cannot leave, and these are the worst ones. They go in waves: the fun "welcome to the group chat!" introductory day, where loads of people with +44 numbers on your phone says "hi guys!", and then a string of emojis, and then repeated assertions that "this is going to be fun"; the bit where someone changes the name of the group chat three times in one hour; the let's-get-on-with-it section, where the leader of the group chat says "right: it’s going to be £200 each, and you all have to wake up at 5AM for some reason, and also I’m booking this some time mad like a Thursday morning, so you need to take at least two entire days off work, it doesn’t matter what for", and everyone plays an intricate game where they say all the dates they can do and none of the dates they can’t, and the firm date for the organised thing moves around solidly maybe four or five times ("Alright, FINAL time guys: Tuesday the 4th, yeah?") (nine hours later, someone will notice the chat from being on mute and say they can’t do Tuesday 4th, and seeing as they are the maid of honour or best man or the person whose birthday it is, inexplicably, the whole thing gets rearranged again); then, the lead-up to the event in question, which is just tedious people being excited; and then the event itself, where your phone blurps all the way to the airport, and then again when you touch down after the plane, and then while the event is happening it rings with logistics ("Anyone seen Chris? He puked off a boat and went to the toilet three hours ago") ("Phone charger? Anyone? Despo!!!!!!!"); and then, when you finally think the hell is over, when you are creaking and aching and half a grand down from whatever stupid event you have spent the weekend doing, you get home, have a shower, sit on the nice clean sofa with your dressing gown on, and your group chat pings again: selfies, and pictures from the weekend, and in-jokes that weren’t funny then and aren’t funny now, and someone, three days later, goes "so when are we getting a drink in", and you know, deep in your bones, you are locked in this group chat, now, forever. It has given you nothing but hell and has turned into a prison, ban them all from the face of the planet, take this theory to the Hague—


4. The ideal number of people to be in a group chat is four. (I have conceded I will never, with my power alone, be able to ban group chats. I concede group chats will continue to exist). Five people, at a push, is fine. Six is too many. Once you get up to six, there’s already someone weird and wrong for the group in there – "Mind if I invite my brother's girlfriend?", that sort of thing, "Oh my old mate is visiting from uni this weekend lemme pop him in the C," and suddenly the entire vibe of the chat changes, and spoils, like milk – and the GC will endure it, for a while, until it doesn’t, until it splinters off into two half-chats, one without the new interloper and whoever bought them in, the once-pure chat still there but sullied, quieter.

I am in two group chats I enjoy: one mostly silent one with three of my friends (the perfect number of friends), and one with my baby cousin, who just wordlessly uploads 20 Minecraft screenshots in a row once every six weeks, and everyone says how sick they are. He added me to a new group, recently, "The Champions", which documented his every Fortnite win, but there’s another kid in there I can’t abide by, "Jacob", so I don’t interact with it so much (I literally just checked and my cousin has kicked me out of the group. I don’t even want to be in it, but: he will pay for this.) Every group chat I’ve ever been added to on Facebook I’ve immediately muted or left. There is no need for this much noise and notifications in my life. Anything important, text me normally. There is simply no need for a group chat. There is simply no need for this many people to be speaking, at once, in my phone. It is our worst invention.

5. Maybe I just hate all my friends, and my phone, and society, and the enduring need to be a member of it. Maybe all communication with me is a waste. Maybe I hate my cousin, with his superior Fortnite record to me and his need to brag about it, and maybe I hate affordable trips to the continent. Do I hate everything? Am I the one who's wrong? What’s the problem, here: a widely popular form of communication that literally everyone on the planet is a member of at least one of, or me, one guy, who does not like group chats? Which is it. Maybe I’m wrong. I’m not wrong. But maybe a small part of me thinks I’m wrong.

6. Maybe you have fun in your group chat, I don’t know. Maybe you think they’re good. But you are wrong to do that, to think and live that way. Every group chat is bad. Admit this.