May 25, 2024
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May 25, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

One of the biggest questions that people ask these days, more and more, is, “Should I be part of a group family chat?”

And my answer is, “Absolutely!” There’s nothing like a group family chat to allow you to keep in constant touch with members of your extended family that you would otherwise almost never speak to, while also being a constant reminder of why. That way if let’s say you’re missing your family, you can stop missing them!

You also get to find out which of your relatives is infuriatingly horrible at grammar, which is something you would not normally find out in person.

Plurals of family names do not get apostrophes!

I’m sort of on a couple of family chats, but sporadically. The good news about going on sporadically is that even if you miss something someone said, it’s still floating in the air for months. You’re just too late to respond. Not that this stops anyone. Because if you go back and read what people wrote, it looks like one never-ending unfocused conversation over the course of years. Like someone has a baby, so everyone says mazel tov. Hours later, someone posts a joke. Then one more person writes, “mazel tov.” And then someone else writes, “LOL!” Then another mazel tov.

So in my opinion, you should definitely set up an extended family chat. That way, you can have a secret second chat that includes everyone but one or two of the original people! (If you don’t think your family has that, you’re definitely that person.)

The chat has dozens of uses. Its main use seems to be that you can say mazel tov to relatives, some of whom you already clearly said mazel tov to in person already. That way, everyone on the chat sees that you personally are saying mazel tov! For example, let’s say my mother posts that she’s making a simcha; I have one sister who chimes in along with all the aunts and Israeli cousins and says, “mazel tov!” There’s no way that this is how you’re telling Mommy mazel tov. You talk to her five times a day. But this way everyone knows you said it, because everyone’s phone is going to ding a separate time because of it.

Sometimes if you feel it’s all very repetitive, you can try to personalize it. Like I have one relative who always writes a bracha. That’s it. Everyone else differentiates theirs with different amounts of exclamation points. One person will use four exclamation points, and another will put 5. He is, in fact, 20% more excited than the previous person. So this way, if you have to make cuts on your invite list, you know who to cut. “Listen, you were less excited…” or “Listen, you were way too excited…” Your call.

I have one cousin who consistently writes “mt!!!!!” like that, with five exclamation points. And that is ridiculous. It is literally one key away from writing, “mazel tov.” At least make a phone call so you can say, “em-tee.”


“I said em-tee. Look, I gotta go.”

And then some people differentiate themselves with emojis. Like they post “mazel tov with an emoji of a baby bottle!” Then the next person posts, “mazel tov bottle balloon baby hearts smiley face!” And another person posts, “mazel tov bottle bottle bottle!” Like anyone is reading through all 25 mazel tovs and noting which person posted how many baby bottles. “Mazel tov butterfly blue heart blue heart!” (Blue heart means boy. It doesn’t mean the baby is not getting enough oxygen in its blood.)

In addition to mazel tovs, you can also very publicly wish people a happy birthday. This way, you get full credit for remembering the person’s birthday along with everyone else even though you’re the 25th person to do so.

You can also use it to post pictures of your Purim costumes or your Chanukah candles or your Tu B’Shvat Seder—all the minor yomim tovim. And also braggy pictures of Chol Hamoed trips where everyone responds, “looks like you had fun!” Or it looks like you all smiled for that one moment because that’s what you do for pictures. And then everyone goes on that same hike the next day because it looked like you had fun, and no one has fun and then they take a picture smiling. And then they post it on their other family chat, and so on. This is how everyone finds out about these places.

In addition, someone on every chat is in charge of alternately posting reminders to say Parshas HaMann or Tefillas HaShlah, in case you didn’t get the 500 emails. And of course once a week everyone can post their Rayze-it campaigns, or their Charidy campaigns, even though you try your hardest not to post yours because you know you’re not the only one on the chat with kids in a yeshiva!

And let’s say there’s something you need in a hurry, but you only need it once, and you think, “surely someone on this chat must have one they can lend me.” So you post it on the chat, and then before anyone else can answer, this one helpful person on every chat says, “maybe the store has it!”

Thank you. I didn’t know about stores.

It’s also a great way to share jokes. Particularly political jokes that will make about half the chat uncomfortable. Like before these chats, no one at the Chanukah party was going around from person to person with a stack of visual jokes trying to get reactions. But now, you get to post it once, and you will either be met by silence, or, if you are certain people on the chat, certain other people will say things like “LOL so tru!” even if it’s not actually that true and those people are not in the same stage of life as the person who posted.

So yes, I don’t know how anybody can live without these chats. Peacefully, is my guess. Sanely? Were we all insane and hard to be around before we got on these chats, or are the chats making us this way?

Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He has also published eight books and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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