Help Desk: :( Help!

Can't escape those pesky group texts? In addition to tough love, there are a few tech solutions.

Help Desk

Hey, do you give advice on normal-life technology problems, or just online dating stuff? My issue has to do with tailgating (beer-and-weenies style, not jackass-in-my-rearview-mirror style, though any tips on the latter would be appreciated too) and group texts.

My old college roommate – let's call him Chad – LOVES to tailgate UT games. The week before every home game, he sends out a group text to about 30 of his closest bros and broettes. They then proceed, over the course of roughly a billion messages, to discuss who's bringing the potato salad, who's bringing the grill, who just farted, and who can say the most offensive thing possible.

I like getting the chance to see Chad, but I don't want to deal with all these obnoxious messages. How do I opt out of the group texts without completely disinviting myself? – Big Reply-All Hater

Group texts are like Transformers sequels –they never stop coming at you, regardless of whether you had any interest in the first place. There's one important difference, however. With Michael Bay movies, you can just stay away from the cineplex all summer. Avoiding group texts requires more decisive action, BRAH.

Traditionally, the only certain way to avoid group threads was to not be included in the first place. That changed this June, when Apple introduced a feature in iOS 8 that allows users to leave a message thread outright or simply turn off notifications for the thread. With Android, things get a bit more complicated, but there are solutions. One is to install an app from the Google Play store to replace your phone's built-in messaging software. Textra SMS, for instance, is free and allows you to turn off notifications on individual threads.

If your phone's operating system is older or more obscure, you might have no choice but to talk to Chad, BRAH. We think this is the right move regardless. We suspect that your problem with Chad and his friends goes beyond the merely technical. If these messages truly offend you – or if you imagine they might offend other people and don't want them on your phone for that reason – why go looking for some digital tool to avoid confrontation? People do grow up and grow out of such behavior. It seems like you have already; you may be surprised to find that Chad is ready to grow up too, if prompted.

If so, we can suggest several tailgating apps that are lighter on the conversation and more efficient in making sure the party is well-provisioned. OurTailgate.com, Tailgating (free from the App Store), and Tailgating Planner ($0.99 on Google Play) come recommended.

Now, as for the other kind of tailgater, the sort that doesn't leave proper braking distance: If group texts are Transformers sequels, tailgating drivers are teen vampires. Far too many of them, and frustratingly difficult to kill. Luckily, your car comes equipped with holy water in the form of windshield wiper fluid. Many cars have enough oomph to douse the windshield behind them if traveling fast enough. If yours doesn't, there are always super soakers ... ;) HD


Send your technology-related pleas for help to helpdesk@austinchronicle.com.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Help Desk, tech etiquette, tailgating, group texts

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