The Chat’s Out of the Bag

 The Chat’s Out of the Bag

By Sean McVeigh

We’ve all been there. You are walking down the street, just minding your own business and your butt starts to vibrate … buzz … It’s a text. No worries, you’ll take a look at that in a minute. Buzz … buzz … buzz … Oh crap. You’ve been added to a group chat.

I hate group chats. Of the approximately 20,000 group chats that I am a member of against my will, there are maybe three that I am happy to be a part of. There are obviously some pros to having a group chat. They can be very efficient in getting a lot of people information very quickly. Unfortunately, we are weak people. As Kant said, “Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.” Every time we get a group message, the temptation to chime in is just too great for most of us.

Is there anything less genuine than wishing someone “congratulations” or a “happy birthday” on a group chat? No. The answer is no. One person writes into the chat of 10 people, “Happy birthday, Harry!” and what follows is a chorus of essentially the same message with the slightest variations so that Harry knows that you also knew it was his birthday and that you care very much about him. “Harry! Happy birthday!” “Have a happy birthday, Harry!” “Hope you enjoy your birthday, Harry!” etc., etc.

Give me a break. What is the point? If any of these people actually knew it was Harry’s birthday or that Joe got the promotion or that Susan and Mary came in first place in the 12th annual three-legged race for Tripod Awareness Month, then you know what they would’ve done? They would’ve called or texted them on their own!

This is nothing new, of course. Before the group text, there was the reply-all email — the group text of the corporate world. Once one person decides to include everyone in their response, you’re the a**hole if you don’t chime in with your own disingenuous platitudes. Why didn’t Sean reply all to welcome the new guy? He must hate him and be a horrible person.

The chat sheep are not the real culprits here. They are just the poor souls caught in the crossfire who have no choice but to respond. The real monster here is the person who sends the first message. I always wonder about this texting terrorist’s thought process. Are they trying to show off that they knew the information and everyone else didn’t? If you have something you want to say to someone, then just say it to them. Don’t involve everyone in some random group chat, too.

One of the few group chats I truly enjoy being a part of is a group of college buddies who are very self-aware of the insincerity of group chat — one of the reasons I enjoy being in it. When someone writes in to wish someone else a “happy birthday” or “congratulations,” all subsequent replies regarding the same matter begin with “Allow me to be the first to say…” It’s been a running joke for years and still gives me a chuckle every time.

Well, you know what? I’m taking a stand. I renounce the group chat. And all its works. And all its empty promises. I am not going to be peer pressured into heaping false adulations onto someone because I happen to be in the same chat as them. If you are going to hear from me, it will be via a more personal, intimate medium … or not at all. I’d say it’s 50-50.

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