The Scary Reasons Group Text Chats Are Harming Your Relationships (And Making You Dumber)

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Love, Self

Maybe stick to one message at a time.

For some, group chats are life; for others, they’re just an annoying ring or vibration within their pocket. Love them or hate them, but the truth is that even though these messages may get you through the day, they actually may be ruining your day, and many of your days to come.

You know how older people constantly relay to millennials that technology makes us lazy and separates us more than it brings us together? Well, there’s some weight to that argument.

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To be fair, group chats aren’t 100 percent bad; like a lot of things, there are pros and cons. On the upside, you send things to a group chat just to have someone share a laugh with, get dating advice, get suggestions while shopping, or to discuss similar interests.

All of those things help you feel like you always have someone (or multiple people) in your corner when you need it. Needless to say, that’s a warming feeling to have in your life. But on the other hand, there are plenty of cons.

According to MIT professor Sherry Turkle, group chats are problematic for two main reasons.

1. We become numb to in-person interaction.

Turkle believes that constantly being in digital conversation handicaps us for the real life. "Being too clued up on every aspect of our friends' lives through electronic communication can leave us ill-prepared for genuine, emotional conversations in real life," she said.

In other words, Turkle is saying that we become used to reacting to something behind a screen, and then picking a response (with an emoji usually) and hitting send. When we have to react to something in real time, we don’t know the proper way to.

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2. We fail to process our thoughts.

When we participate in group chats on a regular basis, we get used to sharing our thoughts and feelings as we’re having them. This can be problematic because if we’re constantly sharing information and reacting to other’s opinions about things simultaneously, we get no time to process our own thoughts. Processing our own thoughts is imperative to keeping our sanity and knowing where we stand on certain issues.

On the contrary, psychotherapist Nicole Amesbury makes an argument that the effects of group chats are exaggerated. She states that we as humans know how to adjust to social settings, and have from the beginning. Therefore, we know how to interact socially in order to better our lives and how to not interact.

"Human evolution shows very clearly that our brains evolved in a social context so that we develop the ability to give and receive emotional support and care through social means," Amesbury said.

The best thing we can take away from this is to just limit our participation. Where we happen to be when we participate in the chats (at work, on the toilet, on dates) is what makes us easy targets for criticism, but the concept of making us unprepared for real life interaction is actually valid.

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