The Rules Of Group Texting

It's for sharing news and talking shit. That's it. Also: Twitter flirting (???) and online ex-avoidance.

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When, if ever, is it appropriate to send group texts? Can I ever send them to a group with a couple people who might not know each other but to whom the text topic is still pertinent?

I REALLY want to grant a pardon here, to myself, because the asker of this question alerted me to the fact that I, myself, once sent her a group text message, to a group of three (BUT ONLY THREE) people total, one of whom she didn't know. (It was during a date! What human is capable of texting her best friends individual detailed reports so quickly that it doesn't seem like she's in the bathroom for a suspiciously, grossly long time?) But if I went around absolving myself each time I disobeyed one of my own rules, this wouldn't be the crystalline system of infallible justice that it is. So this is it. The last-ever time I'll let myself off the hook.

Group texts are appropriate when you want to share news or, more realistically, talk shit about a mutual acquaintance with a handful of close friends. I think that's pretty much it. If you have two best friends and the three of you are a known, solidified unit, you can group text those BFFs whenever, but it makes the most sense to reserve a group text for discussions that benefit from each of you weighing in and building off the others' contributions. So, gossip, basically.

Don't send group texts to people who don't know each other, EVEN IF you are on a date. It's so tempting, I know, but it's a time-saver for you and almost always a nuisance for everyone else. Probably the only thing worse than not getting a text from someone you really care about is getting a text from someone you don't care about at ALL. Right? So don't do that to your friends, and let's all work on really nailing that bathroom-texting speed.

One of my internet crushes and I recently transitioned from @-reply tweet flirting to Gchat, but it kind of seems like we lost our Twitter spark in the move. Is that a thing? Is it fixable? Is it a major red flag??

OH-hohohohoho. Whoaaaa-hahaha-ohhhhh ho ho ho ho. Hehehehehe. *rolls eyes* Haha, right? All's fair in … all's well that … ends! Haha. Yeesh. Eh, oh well. Life!! *punches hole in the wall*

This is definitely a thing. One of the things. It's probably like THE thing, to be honest. It's not just with flirting, necessarily, either: you can have great Twitter chemistry with someone even in a friendly, jokey sense, and then Gchat (or whatever other lengthier platform) can come along and just totally murder it. Twitter was BUILT for flirting, practically. The favoriting, the @-replying, the favoriting of the @-replying and the retweeting: It can be a constant stream of little thrills and it's hard to replicate something like that elsewhere. Good, too — imagine the energy expended on our social lives if we all got on as chummily IRL as we do at our chummiest on Twitter! Ugh, actually that sounds great.

Anyway, I don't think a lack of Gchat chemistry is super-fixable, especially if you've given it a handful of tries and if one of the parties just isn't ever as chatty as the other. Any time you feel like conversation isn't coming easily or naturally to you and other person, it just doesn't bode well for you two in general. But! There are always extenuating circumstances (like work, or an unnatural aversion to Gchat), and maybe long-form emails would be more your thing. But if you are in love on Twitter, just stay in love on Twitter. It's short and sweet and nice.

How do I avoid stalking crushes/exes/exes' new squeezes/crushes' new squeezes (sob) on their publicly available Instagram/Vine/Twitter feeds? Facebook has all sorts of useful hide/block functionality but what about the things I can look at on the web without even having an account on the same service? Obviously self-control is one possible answer but also obviously I lack that. Are there other ways?

Question: Does hiding someone on Facebook actually WORK for you? Do you not just type that person's (those people's) name into the search box each day and pore through their updates and new pictures anyway? Has Facebook not learned these names so that, as you type just the FIRST letter of these people's first names, the rest is filled in automatically? (Facebook, you are a jerk and an enabler!) Because if so, your self-control might be a lot better than you think it is.

I don't know of another way to prevent yourself from looking at the social media existences of crushes/exes/exes' squeezes/crushes' squeezes apart from … blindness and death, I suppose, but no — to my knowledge, there is not a single app that has the decency to remove these persons from the worldwide webs. I am not a programmer or anything but on a general level I am not sure how anything like that would even work. If these a-holes have decided to make their information available to you, you just get to see it.

So what I would instead do is to aim for minimizing the damage: give yourself a daily stalking window. Maybe the one that works for you is between 7:10–7:30 a.m., when you are awake but not yet ready to get out of bed, and you quickly check everything on your phone while you are safe under the covers. But any 20-minute period of time is OK — for now. Two weeks from now you have to lower it to 10 minutes a day. Two weeks after that you get five minutes, so you'll have to prioritize. Should you choose to aim for zero (and only the strongest-willed of us, myself not included, can make it), I wish you all the best, and let me know what life is like on the other side.

FWD: Halp! is a weekly advice column on how to behave like a person when using technology. Would you like said advice? Email your questions to Katie.

Illustration by Cara Vandermey

Senior Editor, Ghost Hunter, Ufologist

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