You've not checked the chat for a while and now it's all cats. Just endless stickers of cats. The last message you saw was about deciding where to go for brunch for Jane's birthday, but now it's just cats. A cat in a hat; a surprised cat; a cute cat; a cat wearing a shirt; a cat creepily stood on its hind legs; Top Cat; Grumpy Cat; that talking cat from Sabrina the Teenage Witch
... You have no idea what sparked this barrage of feline-themed stickers, and you don't really want to scroll up through them all to find out. 'Have we decided on a venue then?' you (foolishly) ask. 'Anyone fancy Taco Bar
?' You get an immediate barrage of replies - no answers to your question, just cats. Just cats.
Basically just a chat about paying bills, taking the bins out and getting rid of the milk in the fridge when it starts going off. No excitement ever stems from this group: 'The bulb in the kitchen has gone.' 'We're out of laundry powder.' 'Who drank my juice?' It's like being a student again except you're not students - you're adults. Adults cohabiting with strangers because you can't afford your own place. Adults eating each other's bread. Adults trying to use a discrete enough amount of each other's shower gel so that the person who bought it doesn't notice. Adults who say 'it's fine' that Angela's boyfriend has been living there for the past four months without paying any utilities.
flickr: Robbie Sproule
'Who wants coffee?' - an innocent question that you soon regret asking when you're trying to squeeze into the elevator back up to the office with three cappuccinos, four iced lattes, a hot chocolate and a blueberry muffin in tow. The office group chat is dangerous territory and somewhere you should tread carefully. In amongst the messages about morning meetings, the water cooler needing refilling and Dave from accounts running ten minutes late (again!), you try to inject some personality into the monotony of office-based graft. This is a mistake. Do not do this. Remember when you sent that sticker and had to see your supervisor 'for a chat?’ You’re best off keeping your head down.
You joined in the hope of getting some exercise and maybe making a few new friends but didn't realise how keen everyone would be. The messages are nonstop: 'Anyone fancy some extra training Saturday morning?' 'Meet up before the game to talk tactics?' 'Anybody wanna watch the match tomorrow night? [football emoji] It's on at Paddy's
at 2am.' All you wanted to do was have a bit of fun; something to take your mind off work and get you out of the house, but here you are sat in Ron Mexico
getting a post-match talking down from your captain about you not tracking back enough to help out the defenders.
You have no intentions of moving (you can't afford to, basically) but stay in the group anyway just to look at pictures of all the nice apartments that you'll never live in. In amongst a throng of agents messages and SmartShanghai
listings you see some glorious homes that make you feel bad about the literal box you live in now, regardless of its proximity to the metro AND a Carrefour. You see balconies and plush sofas, you even saw one listing that had a real oven. You'd settle for a hob that didn't turn itself off in the middle of cooking.
You're not sure how you ended up in 'Beijing Race Walkers' group chat but you stay for the gossip. Apparently Greg's victory in the last race is under scrutiny because a spectator supposedly has footage of him with two feet off the road, which is grounds for disqualification. Greg disputes the fact and claims the footage is inconclusive, so the result should still stand. It's like a weird WeChat-based race walking-themed soap opera - and you love it.
Just pictures of people's meals. Not even people you know or care about. Just pictures of strangers' food. You aren't interested in the random people's avocado toast, sliders or dan dan mian
. You could quite easily leave the group - you never post yourself - but you can't bring yourself to do it. You secretly love it every time you get a notification. You live to critique. You're a foodie-fuelled narcissist.
By Adam Hopkins