Sunday, February 10, 2008

Group Texting: Good or Evil?

Sure, group text messages can be efficient to organize pre-parties, wish friends a happy new year or see who in your inner circle can remember the name of the second bar you went to on the eve of your "quarter life crisis" -- Ace Bar -- how could you forget?! (Thank you Jessica Silverman for the quick reply). But the growing trend of using group text messaging in the dating process is giving the function a bad wrap, and rightly so. Here's what happens: Said single sends vague text to multiple people they are dating. Examples include: "what are you up to?" "plans later?" or "meet up tonight?". How do I know about this? Because I have been on the unknowing receiving end and responded with a reasonable answer -- to their begging question -- and then wound up never hearing back from them that evening. They must have been drinking and just forgot to text me back, right? Wrong. I was kind of stood up.
The receiving (or not receiving) end can certainly be frustrating but what's even worse is that this behavior is also devaluing the text message as a whole. If a single can shoot out a note in 30 seconds and receive a flurry of enticing texts within the hour -- "on LES, come down," and "come 2 apt party in GramerC"-- the behavior is reinforced. Why reserve texts for the people you really want to see? Afterall they may be unavailable, geographically anyway. The UWS just isn't realistic in February...

During a Friday night dinner, I saw how this haphazard text-style can really yield results. My friend pulled out her phone, "let's see what the Scotts are doing." "Are those your family friends in town?" I asked. "No" she laughed "study abroad Scott" and "Gristedes Scott." By the time we got our check, she had locations for both including cross streets. It was like GPS for dating. She responded back to both of them "Gr8 will prob see u later." She never showed up. But she did get off, Scott-free. Literally, she did. Answered a text from a guy she'd been seeing a few months back. "Where you at sexy?" She held up her phone with pride and said, "see its personalized....I know he only sent this to me." "Totally," I said.

Now when I think I'm receiving a blast text, I ignore it. If its that important he'll call right? Yeah, right.


  1. But couldn't group texting also encourage a kind of "auctioning" of exciting or fun behavior for the people who want to hook up with the texter, resulting in a better time than would normally be had? It's also interesting to consider how and why people show those around them the text messages they receive and what that does for identity, or social status, or some similar aspect.

  2. Two things jewels,

    1. You never know what you have 'til it's gone; it wasn't until iPhone sodtware 1.1.3 that we got the ability to send texts to multiple recipients. Can you imagine sending the obligatory Thanksgiving, Xmas and New Year's group blast to each person individually? I still got a low response rate and I hand-typed every one of those m0therf@$^ers!

    2. Check out iPling; which a new software for iPhone that steps into the dangerous world of mobile dating by allowing users to send anonymous texts to anyone in the area.

    Love the blog, btw.

  3. In all seriousness, how does one know when they're on a group text?

    You just brought something new into my life - thanks for adding paranoia to my already-intoxicated brain.

    Well done.

  4. Am I so out of this loop because I am married? We weren't group texting 4 years ago! I want to get in on it, start group texting me! Then I can get all kinds of confused.

  5. My sister ran into an issue with a group text recently. An old friend from college sent her a "Happy New Year!" text. She assumed it was a group text until she realized her husband (a mutual friend of the texter) did not get the text. Her husband then took it a step further to see if any of the texter's other mutual friends got the supposed group text. Negative. Yada, yada, yada. My sister's husband is paranoid that the texter has feelings for his wife. Maybe he's reading into things too much...or is he...?

  6. OMG-- something very similar happened to a friend of mine Diana. I think texting is that medium where people can express innermost desires without as much fear. Definitely drama, and husband beware! (not to increase anyone's paranoia)