Haasch: Get yourself a group chat

You deserve friends and support moving into the future.

Palmer Haasch

I’m in this group chat. There are 15 of us: all young, female journalists working (or in my case, very much hoping to work) in digital media covering beats ranging from technology policy to fandom to marijuana to cybersecurity. What started out as a group Twitter direct message with only six of us has flourished into a thriving Slack workspace for networking and chatting (but frankly, mostly shitposting). I’m the youngest and least experienced. Despite feeling somewhat out of place sometimes, the impression that I have friends willing to help guide me into the workforce is extremely reassuring.

As I prepare to graduate, I’m plagued by common fears like moving (permanently, this time) away from my friends, finding a long-term job and being wholly in command of my finances. Coupled with day-to-day life anxieties are fears about my future job security: I’m going into digital media (and looking for culture reporter positions in New York City — hit me up). The volatility of the industry terrifies me. I’ve previously written about my emotional reactions to massive layoffs at companies like Verizon Media and BuzzFeed. Back in January, I didn’t have an answer for how to deal with anxiety about things like job security in digital media or coordinated, targeted online harassment. My only solution at the time was to subscribe to news sites that matter to you and tell your friends that you support them.

Now, four months later and on the cusp of my graduation, my answer is this: get yourself a group chat. 

Will the group chat prevent you from being laid off? Probably not. Will it be able to spare you from harassment based on something that you wrote? Unfortunately, that answer is also “no.” However, it does provide you with a support structure comprising people who absolutely get it and can help you parse through what’s going on in your life and your career. While it’s certainly not a replacement for therapy, it’s a net to fall back on when things get choppy, stressful or incomprehensible. It’s also a great place to send ephemera like bad internet takes. 

Ultimately, it comes down to having friends in your industry. Every vocation comes with particular concerns and anxieties, and having people who automatically get it without extensive explanation is invaluable. It’s also somewhere to celebrate victories in a way that feels genuine with people who care (i.e. none of that typical LinkedIn “honored and humbled” talk). Dropping the pretenses with people you care about isn’t valuable in a transactional sense — it’s necessary and healthy.

This is my last column ever at the Minnesota Daily. I graduate in just under two weeks and move away in just under four. I reluctantly leave the community I’ve had the privilege to be a part of here. If you’ve stuck with me through columns about PETA’s weirdly horny tweets or electric scooters, I am immeasurably grateful to you. And to the group chat — I am immeasurably grateful for you as well, for everything. My last, official opinion for the Daily is this: seek out the friends, support and happiness that you need. You deserve it.