Are You in a Group Chat?
—Grace & Truth Linkup

My phone was dinging again. Another text.

You know how it goes. One sound indicates a new message. Another sound indicates someone “hearted” a message or sent a “haha” or “thumbs up.”

I admit it—sometimes it can feel annoying if you’re in a large group text.

Yet I always look at the texts. I appreciate my communities. I need my communities.

Looking at the texts I’ve received this week from group chats, I have some from my book club, some from a family group, others from a group of volunteers I participate with, and others from my writing cohort.

I belong to each group in a different way and for a different reason. There is a wholeness in the diversity.

According to a 2022 study, we all need “relational diversity” in our social ecosystem. [Read more about it here: How much social interaction do you actually need?]

To feel happier, this study suggests we socialize with a range of conversation partners. We’re more likely to keep loneliness at bay if we widen our social repertoire.

For example, they say if you have eight conversations with colleagues in a day and two conversations with friends, it’s low relational diversity because only two categories are represented.

“On the other hand, the more relationally diverse portfolio would be if I had two conversations with colleagues, two with friends, two conversations with a partner, two with strangers, maybe two with my parents. There’s more categories present, and I’m more evenly spreading my time across those categories.”

I don’t know if enough research has been done to validate these findings, but it is interesting to ponder.

Looking at just my group chats so far this month, I see a lot of diversity. And in many of the chats, they are about our past or future in-person activities.

I need the face-to-face contact most of all.

In person, my month hasn’t been as diverse categorically. I’ll keep working on that. As the study suggests—and as we all know anyway—“The most effective mode of communication is face-to-face (although a phone call is a close second).”

I’m grateful for the communities that have shared real time with me this month. It’s with them that I continue to find the most healing and most growth.

Let’s keep chatting. 

How relationally diverse have your conversations been this month? Share your thoughts in the comments.


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12 thoughts on “Are You in a Group Chat?
—Grace & Truth Linkup

  1. Lory @ Entering the Enchanted Castle

    This is probably a good question, but it makes me think “Oh no, something else I have to keep track of and worry about!” Sorry, just my first impression. Probably an Enneagram Type 4 reaction. 🙂

    My relationship categories would be something like this: nuclear family (in person), extended family (remote), day job (in person), other part-time work (remote), friends (remote, sadly), fellow students (spiritual direction training, other courses/workshops – remote). I do think I actually maintain a pretty good mix of all these, so no need to worry after all.

  2. Michele Morin

    Oh, the endless pings from the group chats…?
    But they are a valuable reminder that relationships require attention and the painful act of untangling my thoughts from my own business and giving my attention to someone else’s!

  3. Jerralea Winn Miller

    I do participate in group chats – mainly family, and church family. I also have a bible study group chat with my small group. We text each other when we see a “nugget of scripture” that we run across, or just an insight the Holy Spirit reveals to us. I have to say these are the texts that I look most forward to hearing notifications.

  4. Jean Wise

    those endless pings ARE annoying. But what drives me nuts the most is the group emails and someone respond to all instead of just to the sender. Pet peeve I guess. On a whole a nuisance but not the end of the world. LOL

  5. Donna Reidland

    This is an interesting subject to consider. It would explain why certain people struggle more with an empty nest than others, as an example. If all your interaction is with family and you don’t build friendships and at least an outside interest or two, when that is mostly gone, it would be very difficult.

  6. Lynn

    How interesting! In our online and work-from-home growing culture, it seems are moving toward less diverse conversations, and less face to face. Although I don’t like the commute, I realize going into an office where (in comparison to work-at-home) I deal with my team and the public face to face is very good for mental and spiritual health!

  7. Corinne

    This is really interesting to me, Lisa. I’ve recently signed off from many groups including chat groups, and I find myself enjoying one to one conversations and face to face meetings a lot more meaningful. I do feel the need to make a more concerted effort in meeting with people.

  8. Jeanne Takenaka

    Lisa, this is interesting. I’ve never considered the different kinds of group texts I tend to receive. The idea of relational diversity is something I’m going to be thinking about. And, for the record, I’m with you. Face-to-face interactions are what feed me the most.

  9. Debbie Wilson

    Interesting. I’ve never considered the different categories my relationships fall into like that. Sometimes I want to silence the group pings, but I don’t want to miss anything either. I try to respond personally when it doesn’t involve everyone to calm the constant pings.

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