It began so innocently. I was just trying to figure out how many people to make the reservation for, and I didn’t want to text everyone individually. “Hey, is everyone in for dinner?” I asked the group of eight. One by one, their iMessages trickled in. They ranged from “Yep!” to “IN.” to the hand-raising girl Emoji.
“Awesome,” I thought to myself as I called the restaurant and got us an 8-top for Friday at quarter to nine. Then, in a rush to finish a movie that I had rented on iTunes within the allotted 24-hour window, I set my phone face down and pressed play.
While the credits rolled, I leaned over to my bedside table and picked up my phone expecting to see some type of notification — a text, a favorited Tweet, an Instagram follow. But no, what I saw was a monster that I had created. On my home row, there sat a red bubble atop my messages that read “48.” Thoughts raced through my head.
“Did someone die? Who got in a car accident? Was it Princess Di and Dodi Fayed again? Is Jordan Spieth drinking Ranch Waters in The Green Jacket at my favorite restaurant? Did I get someone pregnant?”
I gulped and decided to go in and see what type of devastation I was in for. But what I saw was not an accident, not a major announcement, not a groundbreaking news story. But, what I did see was a tragedy in and of itself — I had created a monster in the form of a never-ending group text.
Honestly, the contents of this group text almost made me wish something potentially devastating had happened. Instead, I was met with a slew of “lolol” messages, Larry David GIFs, and people asking, “Yeah, what’s up with them? Are they together?” This meaningless banter all stemmed from me simply wanting to not eat and drink alone on a Friday night.
Conversations that I had no investment in were rampantly overtaking my data usage. I started having to deselect “Available Offline” for my favorite Spotify playlists in order to free up gigs for the screenshots of Bumble matches everyone was getting. I was getting location pins for events in cities that I had never even been to.
“You brought this upon yourself,” I kept telling myself as I endlessly scrolled trying to get to the root of all of the unread messages. Had I just made a reservation and made some game-time decisions once everyone started trickling into the restaurant, my mind wouldn’t be cluttered with the texts that were littering my notification center. But no, I brought this entire situation upon myself.
Sure, I can put the message on “Do Not Disturb” and yeah, I could remove myself from the conversation entirely. But is it worth it? Is it worth my friends saying, “Will, why do you never respond to us?” after I open the text just to clear my notifications before locking my phone again? Is it worth looking like an asshole when it says, “Will has left the conversation” when I finally take the dive? Nah. I’ve spent too much time making these friends and forming these bonds. I’m at the point in my life where I don’t feel like making any new friends, so the people in this group iMessage are my only salvation from spending the rest of my life alone.
Instead, I’ll just be sitting somewhere — my desk, my bed, at a stoplight — half-heartedly responding “Hahaha” every few hours acting like I actually read the jokes that existed within the thread. I’ll be sending random selfies of myself that I should be saving for Snapchat in a desperate attempt to maintain the friendship I have with the people on the other end. I’ll blindly RSVP for ideas that are pitched without taking any considerations for location, price, or time. And why? Because this is my cross to bear.
And here, I’ll sit, just waiting for the conversation to die. .
iPhone Background via The Fresh Exchange