Banter, banter, the unending stream of banter. Comb your hair back from your face and allow the banter to engulf you, gushing from your phone like a strong rope of piss. And you know where it's coming from, don't you: it's coming from your WhatsApp groups, the things you live in and swim around in like a fish, the things you ignore and look upon for support, the constant hum of non-chat that keeps your phone's image library constantly stocked with fresh memes, the thing that pops off at certain high flash points – audition episodes of The X Factor, lunch hours spent near the Meal Deal fridge, the commute home – and lays quiet when people have things to do. This is the modern world of chatter. You can ignore it or you can embrace it. You can never turn it off.
Anyway, unfortunately it is my duty to inform you of the worst news in the world: there is a new WhatsApp update that sends you a notification if you get tagged in a group chat even if you have that group chat muted. All you need to do is type an "@" symbol and it brings up a list of everyone you're involved with. This is the end for you. This is the end of your peace.
Remember the WhatsApp group they started two years ago to organise that stag-do, and you muted it on the day of the wedding? It's still going and they just figured out how to @ you. The family WhatsApp that somehow has three separate cousins all starting uni? Your aunts, their mums, just figured out how to @ you and "want to ask if you'd give them a call and just offer them some advice". Everyone you went to school with? Somehow they got your number and added you to their group because "it's a great laugh".
The moral of the story is staying in touch is awful. The moral of the story is: here's everyone who's in your WhatsApp group chat.
THE PERSON WHO LEAVES IMMEDIATELY
What I find with WhatsApp group chats is it's always the same eight people every time, just starting new chats when the previous one finally stutters to a lull, and during that phase – the "You have been added to this chat!" "[number you don't have saved on your phone] has been added to this chat!" "[kid you liked at school but hate since he got a girlfriend and got just exceptionally boring and really into comparing car insurance quotes to get the best deal] has been added to this chat!" phase – the only person with any sense just immediately cuts out and leaves.
They are the real hero of WhatsApp group chats: they are un-bogged down, light and free. They do not have every meeting at work disturbed with some inane chat notifications. And also, because they left it means you really can't without it being awkward, so you're just stuck here now, forever, or at least until it stutters to a lull and gets restarted again.
PERSON WHO JUST SAYS 'HEHE'
Hard to ever tell if these people are just full-on murderer-level dead-inside emotion vacuums – "hehe," they say, then, six hours later, "hehe", and then again, later, "hehe" – or they genuinely do find every remote crumb of WhatsApp patter genuinely funny, which I suppose in itself displays its own special psychological maniac profile. What I am saying is: do not trust anyone who compulsively says "hehe" in the WhatsApp group with animals, heavy machinery or children.
PERSON WHO CONSTANTLY CHANGES THE GROUP ICON
In the uneasy hierarchy of the WhatsApp group chat, it goes like this: the person who founded the group chat is the King or Queen; they may appoint a deputy when the persons in the group hits the 20+ mark, and therefore maintaining the chat becomes a 24-hour round-the-clock administrative job; and the person who takes it upon themselves to constantly change the group icon is, whatever way you spin it, the princeling, the second or third-in-command.
This person is unelected: they are the ones with a separate folder or folders on their phone marked "gifs" and "memes". They are the ones constantly locked to WiFi, they are the ones who react fastest, tap the most messages out, have the cry-laugh emoji at the top of their recent emoji list. They are the people who look at their phone even when they're getting their hair cut. Whoever changes the WhatsApp group icon is the power user and must be respected. Occasional tussles over control will, like stags rutting together in the depths of the woods, threaten the balance – but ultimately the group icon changer will win out. Pay your fucking dues to them and kiss the ring.
PERSON WHO CONSTANTLY CHANGES THE GROUP NAME
Everyone hates this person. They are a pig.
PERSON WHO REPLIES TO EVERY QUESTION WITH A SELFIE
Nobody cares. Fuck your face and fuck you. Just say if you're getting the train with us tomorrow or not, Marcus. I don't need to see you doing a thumbs up with a fucking Lucozade while sat at your desk.
THE PERSON WHO JUST SENDS UNANSWERED MEMES SILENTLY INTO THE VOID
You have to assume that the subtle nuances of human conversation developed over hundreds and thousands of years – nods, blinks, pauses, tuts, breath control, eye contact, walking and/or running away screaming – are entirely fucking lost on the dude who just bombards the group chat with Harambe memes and contextless Spongebob Squarepants screenshots. Anyone who does this also tells people in the street to "cheer up, it might never happen" because they do not understand that human interaction isn't just "broadcasting noises".
THE FAMILY WHATSAPP
Your mum has only just got a smartphone somehow, so she thinks this is a good idea. Your dad just occasionally sends through the football score. Your sister's got 600 pictures of her kid going that she sends through without a caption. One of your mum's mates is in there, for some reason? Your mum keeps telling you off for "swearing in front of Barb". Your mum and dad are going to a BBQ today and there's nothing you care about less. A picture of the cat. A picture of the new oven. Life is changing without you. You're drifting further away from it by the day. Ah, yes, we are like the family off Gogglebox, you're right. Yes, you can repaint my old room. No, I won't make it up for your birthday this year. I can't, mum, work. Does anyone really care about you, you wonder, in the quiet moments. Does anyone care about what you do? Can you talk to these people anymore or are you just resigned to repeating the same family jokes about Aunt Maggie's messy house and how many times the dog needs walking?
Your dad: "I don't know how I'm alive with this bad cooking!" and a picture of a quite reasonable-looking ham. Your mum's figured out emoji and you hate the simple, old person-way she uses them. You loathe it. You loathe that she doesn't know technology the way you know what you know. God. Is anything more embarrassing than this. God. Will you miss them when they are gone? You realise with almighty sobs that you will. These people made you out of their blood and their energy and their money and just with sheer work. They are everything you are and nothing. You are an extension of their every flaw and note of genius. You are mark 2.0: the improvement. You are the great white beacon of hope to this family. You can be anything, they truly believe that. "One day you will," your mum says, when you slam into 25 and realise you've been doing the same shitty job you've done since you graduated and go home to literally cry about it while she makes you a roast. "You could go back and retrain," your dad says, hopefully. These people are the only humans alive who truly, truly have your back. You get the train home. Mum has packed a little foil thing of sandwiches. You watch the town melt into the countryside and then back into the city again. You eat the sandwiches. You do not retrain. Mum sends through a Minion meme. You fucking mute the group and never look at it again.
PERSON WHO REFUSES TO SCROLL UP
"lol what's this about guys???"
Dunno, mate, probably the conversation we've been having for the past 20 minutes. Probably that. It's kind of baffling I need to even explain that. Do you click on Simple Wikipedia links instead of Wikipedia proper because you need things explaining to you in very simple and plain words? Is that you? Are you who that website is for?
THE SILENT OBSERVER
And so, eerie like a voice whispering nothings in the night, it comes creaking out of the dark hole in which it has been dwelling: "It's been so long since I've seen you!" you say. "My god, where have you been? Did you just mute this group then, yeah? God, you've changed so much... I see you've been on holiday, I saw it on your Insta. Are you still in that same job? God, I have so many questions! I'm so glad you're alive! Haha, you just go to ground sometimes, huh? I sort of respect it in a way; it's cool how you can just unplug, I wish I cou—
"so guys is anyone actually coming to my birthday or not? I invited you all on Facebook"
And then they go again, vanished to the wind, nothing but a light swishing sound behind them, and that's it until next year, because fuck no are you going to their birthday, it's in a fucking wine bar in Canary Wharf.
THE PERSON WHO CAN'T POSSIBLY HAVE A JOB, SURELY
I just don't understand how this person is i. humanly capable of sending this many messages, full stop; ii. is capable of sending this many messages while working the shop floor at Topshop, where phones are banned? Like how have you sent 600 messages and four selfies in a two-hour period where you're explicitly meant to be sorting bomber jackets out in order of size? I don't understand? Have you somehow transcended the old fashioned idea of "an actual phone with a messaging app installed" and you're just blurting this crap onto my phone with the sheer power of your mind? If so, can you stop please?
GUY WHO GOES SILENT FOR FIVE MINUTES AND THEN WHEN HE COMES BACK IT TURNS OUT THAT AH: WHAT HE HAS DONE IS GONE AWAY, TURNED A JOKE FROM THE GROUP CHAT INTO A MEME, AN IMAGE MEME, CAREFULLY CROPPED AND EMAILED TO HIS PHONE, SAVED AND REPEATED AGAIN IN THE GROUP CHAT A FULL 300 SECONDS AFTER THE JOKE ITSELF DIED, AH, YES NO VERY GOOD, I REMEMBER THAT JOKE NOW
PERSON WHO ONLY CHECKS IN TO TELL YOU HOW BAD THEIR COMMUTE IS
Always thought the most boring conversation on earth was "person recounts the dream they had about you, to you", but no: it's actually some lad from your old school on WhatsApp sending through blurry photos of ticket stubs and a line of men in tanned jackets queuing in the exact place on the platform where the train door always opens along with the caption "fuming" and the emoji of a man blowing steam out furiously through his nostrils.
LAD WHO IS TRYING TO MAKE HIS OWN FACE INTO A REACTION MEME
Yeah we all laughed when that club photographer caught you gurning your jaw off, mate, but we don't need to see it 20 times in a row – especially not now: Ally's just been dumped.
PERSON WHO RESPONDS TO YOUR TEXTS AND EMAILS VIA WHATSAPP BECAUSE 'IT'S ENCRYPTED, SO IT'S SAFER'
I just need your bank details so I can send you the £15 I owe you for that cab last night, mate, stop acting like you're in the CIA. The only thing the police would find if they accessed your phone would be a hundred unanswered "u up?" texts and a basically embarrassing Candy Crush hi-score.
THE LAD WHO ALWAYS SENDS PICTURES OF HIS SHIT
For some reason the kid who thought he was really funny at school until he spectacularly bombed doing a loose five-minute slot at the sixth form talent show has only one joke left now, and it's "sending a picture of his shits to all of you". Thing is: that is not a healthy-looking turd he is presenting here. I mean, it is all knobbly and seems loose and swimming in a lake of too-lurid piss, and, like, does his diet consist of tree bark and Nutella only? Sir, please eat some fibre. The brass fact of this is: this man needs to go to a doctor quite drastically and there is no polite way to say it. The reality is: you somehow have eight pictures of someone else's unhealthy shits saved on your phone and it's not even 10AM yet.
THE GUY WHO ALWAYS TAKES THE JOKE TOO FAR, JUST A LITTLE TOO FAR, JUST EDGES THE JOKE OVER THE LINE FROM 'FUNNY' TO 'ACTUALLY TERRIBLE' THROUGH SHEER PERSISTENCE AND REPETITION
Yeah, we all thought that joke you did three days ago was good, mate, but you didn't need to get T-shirts printed up of it.
LAD WHO FINISHES WORK INEXPLICABLY AT 4PM AND SO GOES TO THE PUB, TAKES A SELFIE WITH A PINT AND SMUGLY SAYS 'JEALOUS MUCH?'
Not really, Ryan, you're sat in a pub drinking on your own. Like: every day. Every single day. On your own. Like: mate. Is this a cry for help? Because I'm at work and therefore I can't answer it.
PERSON WHO ONLY DROPS IN TO OCCASIONALLY SEND THE JUICIEST, JUICIEST CONVERSATIONAL NON-SEQUITUR YOU'VE EVER SEEN BEFORE GOING 'OOPS, WRONG CONVERSATION'
NOTHING YOU SAY IS INTERESTING APART FROM THIS. WHERE ARE YOU HAVING THESE INTERESTING CONVERSATIONS. MAKE ME PRIVVY TO THE OTHER SIDE OF YOU.
PERSON WHO IS LIKE, 'SERIOUSLY GUYS, WHAT TIME ARE WE MEETING TOMORROW?' WHEN THE BANTER IS IN FULL FLOW
This is me. This one is me. I can't scroll up to check because every time someone says "lol" again my place resets down to the bottom. Guess I'll just... not... see you.... ever?
GIRLS WHO SEND EXCEPTIONALLY LONG ASOS HYPERLINKS TO THE GROUP CHAT AND JUST SAY 'THOUGHTS?'
Hun it's £8 just fucking get it nobody cares xx
LAD WHO IS BORED ON A NIGHT OUT AND SO JUST SENDS THE WHATSAPP EQUIVALENT OF GRUNTS AND BURPS – 'WHAT U ALL DOIN?' 'LOL' 'COME OUT! IT'S BANGING' 'I'M TIRED, MATE, AND SOMETIMES I JUST WANT TO GIVE UP' – THAT LIGHT UP YOUR PHONE WHEN YOU'RE TRYING TO JUST EAT A CURRY AND WATCHING 'X FACTOR'
Nothing quite so desperate as watching someone who's spent £40 on Jägerbombs tonight having a breakdown as he realises all his friends live inside his phone.
THE PERSON WHO BRAGS ABOUT HOW HUNGOVER THEY ARE AND PROVES IT WITH PHOTOS OF THEIR EMPTY BOOZE CONTAINERS
Ah, yes. How livid the recycling men will be, with you, for giving them so much work to do. A green see-thru bag of Fosters cans. What an evening you must have had. Hark! What light from yonder WhatsApp notification window? Wait for it to load, wait for it to load, wait for: ah. I see. A photograph of you in your pyjamas graphically eating a Big Mac. I'm glad I used my data to download that.
THE PERSON WHO DOES NOT KNOW HOW TO GOOGLE EVEN ONE THING
"hi guys! where we meeting tomorrow and how do I get there??" IT'S CALLED CITYMAPPER YOU USELESS MOTHERFUCKER, DOWNLOAD IT. DOWNLOAD IT. DOWNLOAD IT RIGHT NOW. I WILL HOLD YOUR FUCKING PHONE WHILE YOU DOWNLOAD IT. DO YOU SEE THIS? DO YOU SEE THIS ICON BY YOUR HOUSE? IT IS A TRAIN STATION. IT'S WHERE PEOPLE GO WHEN THEY NEED TO GO PLACES. GET FAMILIAR WITH IT, YOU SUB-ORDINARY SHITWAD. HOW DO YOU GET ANYTHING DONE? HOW DO YOU EVER LEAVE THE HOUSE WITHOUT DYING? I HATE YOU WITH MY LIFE. SHIT YOURSELF AND DIE YOU ABSOLUTE TRASH HEAP OF A GARBAGE HUMAN
PEOPLE WHO ARE LIKE A HUNDRED YEARS BEHIND THE NEWS, A THOUSAND YEARS BEHIND THE NEWS, THEY ARE THE FACEBOOK NEWS DELAY ON STEROIDS, THEY ARE STILL A BIT IN SHOCK ABOUT DIANA
"Umm, guys?? Anyone heard of this #Brexit thing? Apparently we had to vote? Anyone know what time?"
PERSON WHO SENDS SCREENSHOTS OF THE SAME FACEBOOK MEMORIES NOTIFICATION WE ALL JUST GOT
Yeah, your hair did look mad, yeah. Yeah. We were different then in a way we could only know now. Weird how memory works the exact same way for everyone alive, isn't it.
THE ENTIRETY OF THE BRIDESMAID GROUP YOU GOT ADDED TO/'STAGS ON TOUR 2k16: NEIL TURNER'S VIRGINITY MEMORIAL GROUP'
Never been in a bridesmaid WhatsApp group, but I assume it's just a thousand consecutive photographs of dresses they are never actually going to buy and then the hurried notification "guys we're at the cupcake workshop like right actual now and they say they're going to cancel the class if more than three of us don't show up!" But I can tell you for sure that stag party WhatsApp groups are just 45 blokes called Lee saying "Wayne Rooney 3/1 first scorer ,, naughty!" and posting club photography from the night you all went out in Magaluf and he fingered two (two.) separate barmaids. This wedding can't come soon enough. They're not even in love, they're just doing it for the kid.
PERSON WHO LIVES FOR THIS WHATSAPP GROUP, WILL DIE FOR THIS WHATSAPP GROUP, THIS WHATSAPP GROUP IS EVERYTHING FOR THEM, PLEASE GUYS, DON'T FORGET TO CHECK IN EACH MORNING, PLEASE GUYS, WAKE 'N' WHATSAPP! GUYS, SOOOOOO NEED A COFFEE, LOL GUYS, COFFEE PIC COMING THROUGH, WHO'S READY FOR LUNCH? UGH: MEEEEEEEE, LIKE LOL GUYS, QUIET ON HERE TODAY, LOL LET ME KNOW IF ANYONE WANTS TO GO FOR LUNCH! ONLY JOKING, NO, LOL, JUST LIKE: I THINK I NEED A NEW JOB, LOL, SO BORED, I JUST FEEL LISTLESS, YOU KNOW? LIKE NO FOR REAL ARE YOU THERE GUYS, QUIET DAY! JUST ON THE COMMUTE HOME NOW, ANYONE ELSE PICK UP METRO? SHOCKING! SENDING A PICCY THROUGH NOW, LIKE LOL GUYYSSSS? IS THIS THING ON??? GUESS THERE'S A WHATSAPP OUTAGE, LOL OKAY, JUST LITTLE OLD ME, HAHA. NO FOR REAL GUYS I GOOGLED IT WHERE ARE YOU ALL, TEATIME! COURGETTI PIC COMING THROUGH, LOL GUYS, GUYS, GUYS. GUYS. PLEASE GUYS. GUYS I'M JUST SO FUCKING LONELY SINCE I MOVED TO THE CITY. GUYS. GUYS. GUYS. GUY—
Don't forget to have fun and be safe on WhatsApp!
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