Have you ever woken up to a screen full of GroupMe notifications? Or have had moments where an incessant stream of GIFs, insults and “Case is lit” messages cause you to bang your head against a wall? Well, welcome to the dark downside of GroupMe.
Created in 2010 by Jared Hecht and Steve Martocci, GroupMe was initially designed as an app that could allow for group messaging across different smartphones. At Colgate, people use the app for a multitude of things, generally improving communication between students. However, GroupMe chats can often be irksome when they have 50 or more members. When used to relay important information, these large groups are not ideal. Many people who have the chats muted, or scroll through constant spam, often miss important events or updates club leaders are trying to relay to them. This begs the question: is GroupMe beneficial, or is it merely an annoyance?
I first learned about GroupMe during my freshman year at Colgate, in the fall of 2012. A friend of mine who did not have a iPhone used the app to link us together. I enjoyed the app so much that I created a GroupMe with my friends from home and it was a great way for all of us to keep in touch. Within months, however, GroupMe exploded. People used it for a great variety of different things from club E-Boards to group projects.
As of right now, I am in 42 different GroupMe chats. Of those 42, about 12 are still active. I also have two chats muted. The other 30 chats are obsolete and inactive. Messages haven’t been posted in them for months, and in some cases, years. For example, I am in a chat called “National Security Project.” The last message was sent in April 2014 and its purpose concluded after we earned a B+ for presenting a US response to Russian action in the Ukraine.
For some strange reason, I have yet to delete this chat and several other inactive chats.
I think I remain in some chats in part due to the dreaded millennial disease known as “FOMO,” or “Fear of missing out.” I never know when one of those chats will again become active and reconnect me with old friends.
In another sense, I am still a member of these inactive chats because scrolling through their old messages and picture galleries, allows me to relive old moments. Some of these pictures are incredibly funny (if anyone reading this plays ultimate Frisbee with me, you know what pictures I’m writing about).
These vestigial GroupMe chats serve as a sort of digital catalog of my college life. Every friend I’ve made in college is in at least one of these chats. Their image galleries are the archives of my past. In twenty years, someone could look at these GroupMes and learn much about who I was.
GroupMe allows us to connect and communicate quickly. I’m in a chat for this very publication and our Editor-in-Chief uses it as her primary way of organizing meetings and passing messages down to the rest of the staff. I don’t think GroupMe will ever replace email or texts, but it is a tool uniquely suited for the American millennial. So, the next time you wake up to 100 notifications, just realize that you’re making digital history.