021 — Three-person group chats
(Jasdev ⇒ Justin, 10/12/20)
At risk of a very lazy prompt, I’m genuinely curious: how about you? What would you do with your five minutes of soapbox?
— Justin, in letter #20.
Steps onto soapbox.
Everyone should start more three-person group texts.
I’ve danced around this Dunbar’s Number1 for chat sizes without realizing their charm until Ryan explained it to me. In the same way a stool can’t stand with two legs (and has extras beyond three), three-person chats include others, yet are small enough to avoid any one person from “fly-on-the-wall”-ing it (a common occurrence in larger groups).
They’re easy to form and provide ground for vulnerability, sharing wins or memes, and for friends to help each other to be better.
Just got back from a hang with two friends? Start a thread with photos taken or a riff on an inside joke.
Want to fold your partner into your social circle? Add ‘em to chats with your friends.
Have two friends who don’t know one another, but want to? Create a space for them.
And better yet, give the group a name2 if your messaging app of choice supports it (bonus points for it being completely unrelated and ever-changing). One of my favorites with two dear friends, Kate and Jason, has worn names that include the word “eep” since we somehow decided it was important to pay homage to our verb of choice when expressing concern or excitement or a little bit of both.
“NO MORE FAX!” is from learning that eeps.com doesn’t 404 and the site’s header mentioning not to fax them.
We even use iMessage’s group name field as an AIM away message replacement. Jason wrote more on this and since renamings don’t send push notifications, we can silently update statuses without spamming the group (channeling our inner emo selves we all once were and probably still are).
…I’m closing in on my five soapbox-minutes, so I’ll end with this note and a bevy of bookmarks I’ve collected over the years:
Start three-person chats with your homies. They want to hear from and be there for you — especially in this moment. Once you have a few going you can hop between them, creating a series of always-on conversations to punctuate your days.
- “The sacredness of group texts.”
- Jonny Sun’s thread on the topic.
- xkcd #2235: “Group chat rules.”
- “The lost art of instant messaging.”
Which qualities come up for you when reading that question?