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WhatsApp groups: What you can do to survive ‘em all

Yes, we know, it’s the epitome of first-world problems but let’s be real: We’ve all had our issues with WhatsApp group chats, so here are some troubleshooting tips

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We don’t know about you, but we really struggle to remember a time before the advent of WhatsApp groups. We mean, how did anyone organise events? And how did we have simultaneous conversations with our girl friends without leaving the comfort of our bed?

However we did it, it’s safe to say that the introduction of WhatsApp groups was one of the best updates – and quite possibly, also the worst. As if Facebook and Instagram weren’t distracting enough, your friends can now hold conversations even if you’re not responding. (Don’t get us started on the annoying chat groups that refuse to go off.)

Just how do you charter through the rough sea that is WhatsApp groups? Don’t worry ladies, we’ve got your back.

 

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1. The Essential Group

Or as I call it, the group of perfection. This is the group chat you wish all WhatsApp groups were like. Everyone is understanding, respectful and, the best part, has their own life. There’s hardly any ‘spam’, except for the sharing of photos post meet-up and the arrangement of said meet-up. Or the occasional hot topic that needs immediate discussing which, to be honest, you would have joined if you didn’t have that office presentation you were rushing for.

Surviving this group is a breeze because so little effort is required. Just be involved when someone is trying to organise an event. And if the conversation topic of the day fits your fancy, chime in. If not, well, nobody will be fussed if you choose not to respond. It’s a great place, really.

 

2. The Nightmare Group

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Ah, the group that makes you reconsider friendships. This is the chat that never stops and is the sole reason why you leave the office (or even wake up) to hundreds of messages. That meeting that kept you away from your phone will bestow upon you the status of a “ghost” of the group, never mind that it was only an hour long.

Surviving this group is tricky because there’s always a tradeoff involved and the exact strategy you take depends purely on the affinity you have with the recipients of the group chat.

This might take a while so we’ll break it down:

For those of you who have had more than enough and are not afraid to step on toes, take the plunge and leave the group chat. This is the most drastic measure because you will probably upset someone – even if you politely explain why you’re leaving before tapping that button but hey, desperate times call for desperate measures.

If you’re simply sick of the notifications but enjoy spending your commute home catching up on all that chatter, simply mute the group chat (the exact duration is entirely up to you and your mood for the day). You’ll be free of the constant popup alerts and vibrations (and not of the good kind). Of course, this might fool you into thinking that the chat is ‘silent’, so remember to check the chat every so often or, well, you’ll be that rude person who never talks. Ever. Or until the mute duration wears off, at least.

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And if you’re trying to be an active part of the group chat but also want to focus on your work, then you’re going to have to realise that there truly is no keeping up – unless you’re not doing any work at all. What you could do is take a short break every hour or so to get up to speed and then continue with your work. Don’t forget to get back to work though; we know how distracting these group chats can be.

Finally, if you’re content to just lurk, or if you’re proud of being the resident “ghost” of the group chat, then who are we to judge? Continue doing your thing, ladies.

 

READ MORE: Here's how social media is causing you to bleed money unknowingly

 

3. The Overpopulated Group

This is pretty similar to The Nightmare Group except the reason for its excessive chatter is due to the fact that there are too many recipients. The chat is characterised by the two separate conversations that are always happening and the perpetual confusion you feel because, chances are, you missed the moment the third topic came about.

My personal favourite technique with this group chat is leaving it. Nobody will really notice because the conversation bumps that notification down fairly quickly. Plus I never really feel like I’m missing out on much since I can never get what’s happening anyway.

If you’re not quite as ruthless or have a serious case of FOMO, then muting it is your next best option. Leave the chat unopened so that when you do open it, you can start reading from where you last left off. Just be sure you’ve got enough time to get through that long stream of cyber-chatter.

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4. The Blast from the Past

You could be having dinner or just stepping out of the shower when you realise that you’re receiving WhatsApp notifications from a group that you don’t recognise. And once the initial excitement of being reconnected with the people you once went to class with (“What are you doing now? How have the past 20 years been? I still remember you called my run weird in primary school, by the way!”), it can go either of two ways.

The first: It becomes a ghost chat. Nobody knows what to say anymore because although the past was great, everyone has their separate futures that don’t quite involve you. The survival tactic we’d employ is to stay in the chat. There’s little to no maintenance required and what is the point of WhatsApp if not to connect us with friends?

The second: You luck out. The group chat becomes The Essential Group. Win!

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5. The Group of Necessity

This is probably the most functional group – and very straightforward. They were created out of necessity and exist for a sole purpose: It could be planning for an important meeting or a surprise party for someone’s birthday. Whatever the case may be, conversation in that group chat happens only when required and once it’s over, the group ceases to exist. Like we said, very straightforward and pretty much the best deal ever. So just contribute whenever you can and don’t be that person who goes missing when it’s most important!

 

6. The “How is this still a thing?” Group

Of course, sometimes people mess up and the group that was meant to dissolve drags on. It becomes awkward not because people don’t like each other but because the conversation was never meant to be extended.

Honestly, there’s nothing to surviving this chat because the chat is essentially nothing. You could always ignore it and let it inevitably fizzle out to the bottom of your conversation list, where it will serve as the token reminder that Groups of Necessity were created for a purpose. And when that purpose is no longer valid, the chat needs to go.

Or leave. No one will blame you.

 

7. The Gossip Group

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There’s no pretending; we’ve all been a part of that group. It’s essentially an exact replica of an existing group chat except someone has been excluded – no explanation needed. It’s terrible and mean and we all hate to admit it, but we’d be lying if we said it didn’t make us feel just a little bit relieved knowing we made it ‘in’.

The danger of the group chat lies in the fact that it’s nearly identical to the other so the survival technique is simple but crucial: Don’t be that friend who types in the wrong group chat and always make sure you’re sending that screenshot to the right conversation.

 

8. The Best Group Ever

And finally we end off with the group that might just be our favourite ever. It’s not ideal by any means because truth be told, there are times we wish our friends would just shut up, or times where there’s their inactivity clashes with your boredom. (And vice versa, of course.) All the same, this is the group that you cannot live without. It’s filled with the best gossip and even with the infrequent petty fighting that occurs (that can get particularly awkward when it doesn’t involve you) there’s nothing you would change about that group. Except maybe the unflattering display picture they’ve chosen to humiliate you.

So our survival technique for this group would be the most cliched but the most truthful: Be yourself, complete with TMI life updates, unflattering selfies and lame puns. Oh, and maybe stock up on some alternative display pictures that your friends will hate. Just for revenge.

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