Investigating and Escaping the Toxic Group Chat

Texting With Several People at Once May be Efficient, but Has its Flaws


Charlotte Clarke

Group chats add to the stress and pressure that high school students already face.

Danielle Dentremont, Online Managing Editor

Society condemns toxic relationships, especially because the Me Too movement has brought to light the vastness of sexual misconduct in the workplace. Likewise, WHS has localized this movement against toxic relationships in the form of Domestic Violence Ended (DOVE) in order to educate students in identifying the precursors to abuse. As progressive and necessary such endeavors are, there is a lack of awareness in regard to toxic friendships. Toxic friendships thrive in group chats where friendships may become forced or contentious.

For many purposes, group chats are necessary and useful. Group chats are helpful for making plans, coordinating times to meet and may even unite people of different cliques. However, responding to messages in a group chat may become a chore that leaves one with over 100 messages that he or she feels obligated to read through at the end of a busy day. Following a story or rumor in a group chat that has little relevance to oneself only facilitates the spread of gossip. Undeniably, there is a degree of intrigue attached to gossip, but implicating several people in another person’s gossip—whether it is true or not—is problematic.

Group chats are ultimately more divisive than they are unifying. Cyber cliques form as several people turn to the group chat to share news and seek information; however, such cliques do not always extend into real life. Many would agree that it has become commonplace in the 21st century to converse with people online but avoid or ignore the same people in person. Yes, this does seem counterintuitive, but it is a reality. Altogether, group chats occasionally breed “fake friendships.”

The action of removing oneself from a toxic group chat may seem impolite, but the gossip mill can be unbearable. One way to disconnect from group chats is to temporarily mute the messages. Listed under info on iMessage, there is an option to hide alerts—one can still view their text messages, but will not hear the sound of the alert. Snapchat issues a timestamp when someone views a message, so, to avoid the temptation of opening unwanted messages, people should turn off notifications for Snapchat in their phone settings.

Attempting to complete homework alongside a phone that is constantly reminding students of the conversations they wish to evade or feel obligated to take part in is challenging.

However, making the definitive decision to remove oneself from a chat may be perceived as harsh and offensive. Thus, group chats are healthy in moderation—like most things—and toxic in excess. The simplest solution to escape a group chat is regularly power off phones and reserve time for self-care as neglecting a handful of text messages is not detrimental to a person’s social life.