84

I have a handful of close friends, including my partner, who frequently text me with a completely random picture or video of something cute and/or funny that they found on the internet. For example, a 2-minute video of a pool full of puppies, or an LOL cat meme. I find this very irritating, but for years, my response has been to either ignore it and pretend I was too busy to reply, or I reply with a one-word answer, e.g., "haha", "lol", "cute". Replying (or deciding whether to reply) is always stressful for me because it feels disingenuous, and I always waste a few moments of my life thinking "Maybe I should tell them how I really feel, since they can't seem to figure it out from my lack of enthusiasm or the fact that I have never once reciprocated". But in the end, I usually go with one of my one-word answers because I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings and I don't want them to stop texting me about other things.

I would estimate that this happens on average once per day from each of these friends. Sometimes they skip a day, other times I may get 5 in one day from one friend. Sometimes the pointless intrusion occurs over e-mail or Facebook, but most commonly it is over text. Sometimes the intrusions are more involved than just a picture or short video: it could be a 20-minute video or something I'm supposed to read. I have been present when they get such messages from each other, and it seems like their response is typically a mixture of "AWWW, so cute!" and "Yay my friend saw a random cute/funny thing and thought of me!". So I understand that they want me to feel that way when they send me these things, and I appreciate the intent.

So my question boils down to this:

How do I get my friends and partner to stop texting me random cute/funny pictures/videos/links in a way that ideally won't hurt their feelings too much or cause them to stop reaching out to me in other ways that I like?

At this point, I also need to somehow address the fact that I have been acting like it doesn't bother me for years (and maybe they even think I slightly enjoy it based on my slightly positive responses).

  • Please don’t write answers in comments. It bypasses our quality measures by not having voting (both up and down) available on comments, as well as having other problems detailed on meta. Comments are for clarifying and improving the question; please don’t use them for other purposes. – Tinkeringbell Mar 21 '18 at 10:31
68

Welcome to the wise and wonderful world of being a curmudgeon. It's ok many of us stayed in the closet for years, but at some point, you just gotta embrace your inner angry old person and let it out.

Ok... Mostly joking... Mostly...

I've been a curmudgeon for a long time now. I have expressed open disdain and disappointment with/for lol cats for as long as that's been a thing.

The two methods I find most successful in stopping the rising meme tide; are as you mentioned one-word responses, and finding my own darker and slightly off putting memes.

The one-word responses thing simply needs to feel like a very subtle mix of indifference and being very slightly patronizing. It's as simple as replacing "haha" with

Ha...
Meh...

It's a cultivated skill to use these, so tread slowly and carefully. People will accuse you of being an inhuman monster for not liking puppies in a kiddie pool. You gotta ease into it.

The other method is a little more advanced, but it can be fun with the right sort of people. Find memes that express how you feel about the meme or video presented. If it's indifference that's heavily covered and easy to find, as are irritation, and simple mockery. I'd share a few of mine, but I'm pretty sure they would violate the "be nice" policy.

Be warned retaliatory memes are for people who can roll with cynical, sarcastic, and dark. If your people are easily upset, I would ease into the indifferent one-word responses.

  • 3
    It wasn't easy to choose an answer to accept because I think there are multiple valid ones, but I find this one most useful for myself based on my personality and relationship with these friends. I will definitely be using this meme idea with my closest friends, and with less close friends, I will simply shorten "haha" to "ha". – Slow loris Sep 4 '17 at 14:34
18

Maybe try being honest with them. Instead of short replies, I say things about what I got & try to stay polite, but not convey any sense of enjoyment. I might say something like

Hey so you know I am not really one to love puppies, but send me all the dark memes you got. Maybe something like this...

And then send them one you love.

I like having a laugh. I think most people do. If you can send me something I enjoy, then I am unlikely to find it so irritating. Likewise, I don't love when someone sends me some link they want me to watch/read so we can discuss, and it's going to take 1-2 hours to look through it. Sometimes I am open to that if we have both shown interest and this will add to the previous conversation. More often, it's something I have no interest in at the moment and no time I am willing to devote to it. Instead, I might say back then,

Hey, sorry, but if I get 1-2hrs of true downtime I am dying to watch this movie, look at the inside of my eyelids (sleep), take a super long bath, etc and this is too heavy for anything I had in mind.

And honestly, most people I know, know that I don't want to be contacted for such things because I have said so. I am busy. When I get a ping, I don't want to stop what I am doing because I was waiting on an important reply to grab my phone and see some weird thing about a cat and a bear that have become best friends. It's not the sort of thing that helps me have a better day. Now if you want to send me some meme that takes Winnie the Pooh and turns him into a Hannibal Lecter scene, have at it. I find that very appropriate to my sense of humor and to the fact that I sort of want to die if I have to watch Pooh one more time.

13

I find 99% memes unfunny and 100% cute kitty pictures leave me totally indifferent… Does the world still spin? Has the sun stopped shining? Do I receive a meme or a cute kitty image every day? Do I still have friends? Yes. No. No. Yes.

"Maybe I should tell them how I really feel, since they can't seem to figure it out from my lack of enthusiasm or the fact that I have never once reciprocated". But in the end, I usually go with one of my one-word answers because I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings and I don't want them to stop texting me about other things.

If the words in bold are true then it will be easier to send everyone the same message, adjust the phrasing and wording to your taste and style but in your situation I would say something along these lines

Hi everybody, I have a confession to make.
For months, friends and family have been forwarding the same memes and LOL cats images, etc. to me. Arggghhhh! :) I love 'em, really I do but it's come to the point where I feel irritation rather than a warm fuzzy glow whenever I get a meme I have seen hundreds of times.

Don't say it's been years, it would be mortifying to anyone to hear that. Months suggests that until recently you appreciated your friends' messages and jokes but you are now at tilting point.

I've never said anything before because I love keeping in touch with you all, and sometimes the jokes you send are hilarious but for the time being, could I ask you to please stop forwarding me these memes, funny e-cards, lol cats, etc.?

I need to detox myself, seriously. Oh, and if anyone by mistake does send me a funny card, don't worry, I won't get annoyed but please don't be offended if I fail to respond with a "Thank you". OK?

Thanks! Love you all.

Hopefully, close friends and wise acquaintances will interpret the above message as saying: "Quit sending me stuff that I couldn't care less about" and delete your name from their mailing lists.

If you do decide to adopt this approach, please keep us up-to-date and tell us if it worked and if you still have friends and family who continue to talk to you. :)

  • I know someone who asked nicely but got sworn at and told to "ignore it if you don't like it". Eventually that's what happened; they got blocked. One day they're going to figure out this has happened but they've not brought it face to face or on the other social networks they share. So that's an option. They weren't told they were blocked; I guess that's another option: "I don't use [chat app] much any more; please use [some other method, specifically email because it's generally more effort so they'll hopefully only actually send you worthwhile messages that way]". – user3573 Sep 4 '17 at 16:11
  • 2
    Before Facebook, the same thing happened with e-mail. But with e-mail, Bayesian analysis tended to redirect much of the useless fluff to the dustbin. – WGroleau Sep 4 '17 at 17:48
  • 1
    'I love 'em, really I do' is the only bit that they are going to remember if you send them that, oh and 'the jokes you send are hilarious'. I know you suggest these phrases to try to soften the perception of rejection, but if Slow loris tells people she loves this hilarious stuff nobody is going to stop sending it. Even if she also asks them to stop 'for the time being', everyone will assume they are okay with them sending one, since everyone else will have stopped. And what does she do when they assume 'for the time being' is over? Lying doesn't help, even if it is well meant, – Spagirl Jan 9 '18 at 13:33
11

Just don't respond.

No one will care and for the few people who do mention it ('didja see my email with the kitten in a bow-tie? wasn't it hilarious?'), just say you prefer lolcode to lolcats.

  • 1
    Agree. Feeding them with response is like feeding a troll. – Vylix Sep 5 '17 at 1:29
  • Indeed, just as trolls feed off angry responses these people feed off positive responses and will leave you alone once they realise they aren't going to get anything from you. Don't worry, they'll still get their fix elsewhere but you'll get your peace and quiet. – Lord Jebus VII Sep 14 '17 at 16:45
7

Just be honest. It's up to you whether you want to send a group text, or individual messages to each frequent offender, or discuss it in person with some. But you can try to emphasize the positive in your request.

Hey [name/everyone]. I've got to admit something that might sound a little strange: I usually don't enjoy the typical random cute and funny things that go all around the Internet. I really appreciate the sentiment that you wanted to include me in something that made you smile. But sometimes I even get annoyed at just receiving too many of the darn things. Could I just ask that you don't include me any more when you pass around the random Internet memes, videos, articles, and so on? In any case, looking forward to seeing you [soon/at specific event].

I wouldn't bring up your past reactions in this message / discussion. It's probably not as big a deal as you imagine. Some friends probably won't even notice the incongruity. If they do, it's not that hard to put it together that you were sometimes just being polite. And that's pretty much a socially acceptable type of lie, similar to answering "How are you?" with "Fine" even if you actually feel rotten (but it may not be the correct time or person to let that sort of thing out). And if anyone does bring it up:

Well, I was trying to be polite. Sorry if that comes across as insincere.

One more thing: It's entirely acceptable to ignore these sorts of forwards entirely, especially ones that would take time to view like a movie or article. Sending memes and such is mostly a fire-and-forget activity. Usually nobody expects even a "ha" or a Facebook "like" in return. If a friend actually hopes you look at a specific link for some reason, they'll add a comment along the lines of "Hey loris, I thought you might like to see this, because I know you're interested in [X]."

6

It happens to me sometimes. I happen to give my number to a co-worker or a company driver for some reason. But then they start forwarding all kinds of timepass posts on WhatsApp to me. Some even add me to their groups out of the blue.

In most cases, I tolerate it for a few days. Then I leave the group without speaking a word, hoping they either don't notice it or, even if they did, hoping that they'll understand why I don't feel like continuing there.

Sometimes people add me to their WhatsApp broadcast lists, and I'll get a dozen clips and memes sent to me.

Quite often, I resort to sending them a private message,

I don't look at such messages, or I don't have the time or mind to read these. Please avoid sending me these. Feel free to contact me for anything else though. :)

It mostly works without causing any issues, but sometimes in some cases, the person either doesn't notice or doesn't heed my message, and continues bothering me with such forwarded posts, so I quite simply block them on WhatsApp.

  • Giving out your number like that (without your consent) is an abuse. For groups, I would suggest leaving the group at once, letting them know you have done so, saying you don't want to be added to groups by someone else, and asking them not to give out your personal info like that. Other than that, your response is perfect. – Jennifer 442 Oct 28 '17 at 4:24
1

How do I get my friends and partner to stop texting me random cute/funny pictures/videos/links in a way that ideally won't hurt their feelings too much or cause them to stop reaching out to me in other ways that I like?

  • Aquire reasonable ammo, like images from this webpage of stupid novelty toys or BS images.

  • Install an MMS Auto-reply or SMS AI Bot that sends dull responses.

  • At first review your messages frequently to make sure everything is OK, later check your messages every few hours, or twice a day. Teach them that bandwidth is precious, and so is your time.

If they have something important you'd enjoy hearing from them, but not cry Wolf calls.

0

People carelessly share such things with everyone who is to slow to run because they want appreciation. Every your 'lol'-like response was seen as a positive feedback. The best way is to be honest. If those messages aren't very annoying, just ignore them, and hope they will get bored if they don't get their pats. Or, hopefully, they will grow up one day.

If it is annoying just say them that you have to silence your phone because constant peeps are not welcomed in your workplace or anywhere and ask to limit sending messages in some hours, or pretend your internet plan is in danger etc.

Anyway, not having to read anything someone has written in internet should not be a concept too difficult to understand for an average adult.

  • 1
    I pay by the gigabyte. Saying so, and explaining the difference between a hundred characters of text and the same text turned into a multi-megabyte graphic has not stopped friends and family from continuing to use the graphic approach. – WGroleau Sep 4 '17 at 17:54
  • @WGroleau, I have a flip phone. It can't receive animated messages. I tell people truthfully "my phone doesn't display your messages" and they stop. When they send images, my phone prompts me before downloading from the server. I say "no." Yay for the simple life. – Wildcard Sep 6 '17 at 5:04
0

Find a copy of "Stop Forwarding That Crap To Me" by Weird Al Yankovic and send it to them. It's amusing enough to take some of the edge off of your rejection.

Although if that doesn't work, I would go with what was mentioned above: blocking. If "Stop Forwarding That Crap To Me" doesn't work, make a direct complaint, and if that doesn't work or if they start arguing with you, send them a message saying "you are now blocked because you keep sending me unwanted 'cute' content" and then block them. After about a week, unblock them and send them a message saying you have. Repeat as needed (lengthening the duration of the block each time).

protected by Community Sep 5 '17 at 9:14

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.