Always-On Conversations19 Sep 2015
Growing up, I frequently participated in outdoor activities like sports and skateboarding. However, a large portion of my childhood was spent indoors in online communities with always-on conversations. Whether it was designing forum signatures for fellow members in the Halo Forums or learning how to install modchips from Xbox modding threads, I was always fascinated by these online worlds. Whenever I felt lonely, I tried to turn things around by jumping into these conversations to learn and grow with my Internet friends.
Fast-forward to my time in college—I unfortunately lost touch with my online friends as life started moving faster. However, in February 2013, something amazing started. Eight close friends and I created a Facebook Messenger thread called ‘Awesomest Turntable DJs’1 (a reference to an old music streaming service, Turntable.fm). Roughly three years later, we have sent over 166k messages (an average of 173 per day). While some may consider it distracting, this thread has helped me through the toughest times of my life so far.
Despite graduation and life moving us across the country2, this thread has kept us close. We have supported each other through breakups, family losses, near-tragic bike accidents, and the troubles that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday. We are also a cheering squad for one another. There is no better feeling than sharing a win with your closest friends and being met with a flood of Minions stickers. Below are a handful of moments I wanted to highlight from our thread:
Balance is key here. When the messages get too noisy, I take a step back and mute the thread for a few hours. This allows me to find my own headspace. That’s the beauty of asynchronous communication!
Always-on conversations make life better and I am beyond grateful for the close friends I have. While today’s generation is often portrayed with their heads down buried in their phones, it is helpful to reframe the picture. That person on the subway glued to their phone might be going through a rough time and is using this connectivity to stay close to those who aren’t physically present ❤️
1: We often refer to the thread as ‘TNN’ (Turntable News Network) for short.
2: Virginia, California, Oregon, Illinois, North Carolina, and New York