Features | 14 Jun 2024

Knights, chihuahuas and drag queens have entered the chat

From medieval reenactors to wheelchair basketball players, the chat groups on our phones mirror the wondrously diverse interests and people of the UK. We spoke to just a few of them.

“Many of us share eBay links, as you can’t just go down to the supermarket for a sword,” Lucy Horrocks of ‘Company of the Phoenix’ re-enactment group told Vodafone UK News, while surrounded by frolicking chihuahuas, pirouetting cheerleaders and extravagantly colourful drag queens.

Gathered together in the capital on Potters Fields Park, near Tower Bridge, were seven very different groups – Company of the Phoenix, the Ancient and Honourable Guild of Town Criers, Dragged Around London, London Chihuahuas, London Dynasty Cheer, the London Titans and the Oxford Taylor Swift Society.

All of them, however, were there for the same reason: to have their group photos taken as part of the Nation’s Network campaign from Vodafone. Because, differences aside, they are unified by a very modern phenomenon – the group chat, with the average UK adult a member of 83 active group chats.

For all seven, group chats are unsurprisingly essential for practical, logistical and organisational matters, such as when and where everyone should be – especially when members don’t live in the same town or area. Phoenix not only use theirs for sharing tips on sourcing historically-accurate medieval props and accoutrements, but for even more basic issues when attending re-enactments. “It’s definitely a lot easier and a lot quicker to get answers for last minute changes, such as the gate code for a castle, than a lot of phone calls or emails,” explained Lucy.

From ‘holibobs’ to ‘famalam’: the group chats uniting the UK

Vodafone uncovers the nation’s networks in a new study.

For wheelchair basketball team London Titans, their group chat is vital for sharing tips on where to find accessible parking at games – especially spaces with enough room for unloading their sports chairs. Dragged Around London, meanwhile, primarily use their chat in a very business-like fashion to find available performers for upcoming gigs, from walking tours to birthday parties.

While Dragged Around London hopes to use their chat to organise more social and community events in the future, that’s already the lifeblood of London Chihuahuas’ chat. Devotees of the diminutive dogs have several borough-level local subgroups, so that the 370-odd members can meet up more frequently and easily for canine playdates. While the group is as much for the chihuahuas as it is for the humans, that hasn’t stopped many of the pup parents from getting along famously. “I’ve met some of my closest friends through the group,” beamed proud chihuahua owner and group admin Georgi.

The sense of community is especially important for the members of the Titans’ group chat. “Even if we do lose, as much as I don’t like it, I enjoy spending time with the people that come and play,” said team member Reece.

Ben, another Titan team member, mentioned the importance of being around others that understood the daily ups and downs of life in a wheelchair. Something that his teammate, Freddy, echoed: “It’s nice to be around other people in chairs. In my other life, I don’t know anyone else in a wheelchair. It’s nice being at the same height as everyone when you’re talking.”

Georgi of London Chihuahuas admitted that she has had to develop some ground rules for their group chat, such as prohibitions against offering dogs for breeding or attempting to sell puppies. “There also some group rules to stop people bickering over things. So if you don’t like something, you can give your opinion, but don’t directly target somebody. For example, there’s some people that have more than five chihuahuas. And then someone will say ‘how could you possibly care for them, you’re evil’ – that kind of thing.”

Combative chihuahua caucuses aside, a sense of gleeful togetherness emanated from all of the groups, a togetherness made possible and enhanced by modern connectivity.

Maneeta of Dragged Around London giggled as they told Vodafone UK News about the strangest gigs the group had been asked to perform at. “We even once had a request for a drag person to come to a wake!”

A Phoenix re-enactor, meanwhile, was unequivocal about what kept him coming back to the medieval world, time and again. “Mental health-wise, it’s the best thing ever to be around a fire at night with all your mates in costume, just having a great time!”

Stay up to date with the latest news from Vodafone by following us on LinkedIn and Twitter/X, as well as signing up for News Centre website notifications.