GroupMe and the Black Millennial

How technology has built a mobile meet and greet space

Image taken from Mother Jones

Born between the years 1982 and 2002, millennials have outpaced the growth of our predecessors Baby Boomers and Generation X. According to a study released by Nielsen earlier this year, 14% (roughly 11 million) of the millennial population identify as Black or African-American and account for 25% of the total African-American community. We have been notably attributed to being the leader of fads, fashion, and most importantly technology.

As a result of social media we are the most connected generation. We are the second largest group of owners of smart phones and over 55% of us spend at least one hour per day on a social media outlet. The evidence alone of how marketers tap into Black Twitter for our empirical views after coming in contact with brands has changed the game. Social media has been a penned subject among news reports, case studies and even music artist. Memphis rapper Yo Gotti’s song “Down in the DM” became a hit this summer as he told the tale of sliding into a woman’s DM after seeing her post a picture. Our everyday actions have influenced multiple areas far and wide. We are a stream of knowledge that have barely scratched the surface at our true power.

One of the largest returns to us for our time spent on social media is the ability to connect across various platforms to people that years ago we wouldn’t have access or even knowledge of their existence. You can live in New York and tweet someone in California. Live in Chicago and follow an Instagram model from Miami. You can also be in a GroupMe with hundreds of people you have probably never met and may never meet, but feel connected to them.

I can speak from experience the power and utilization of GroupMe. When I first moved to Chicago, I knew a good number of people but met a large group of new people via GroupMe. Some of my first encounters with the social media connect was by being adding to TUC (or the Turn Up Crew) chat by my friend Lauren. Before actually meeting them in person, I was introduced to their witty language, quick humor and relentless debates on various topics. From there I was put into Chicago Young Black Professionals or CYBP. I knew what they did for work, what side of town they lived on, etc before I even met them. Writing this I’m even saying to myself that this is all very strange, but now I can think of how many people that I’ve came across and met via a social networks and that the face of how we network has changed.

Fast-forward to fall of 2015 where a small group of us decided to buy flights to visit Colombia for Memorial Day Weekend. We started off with 15 people who bought tickets and within 24 hours the group membership was over 100. By 48 hours we were approaching 150 people that bought tickets and prepared to venture to South America with friends and a hundred random people. Ultimately connected with the hashtags #SchemeSZN and #TheLifeofPaBlow (funny play on The Life of Pablo, Pablo Escobar and of course, you know) it became a 210 person trip that included renting the biggest yacht we could find, taking over a whole club and bar with endless bottles and riding in Pablo’s countryside with people from all parts of the US. Exchanging culture and hospitality with fortune and good will we donated over 4 million Colombian Pesos to a local charity while there. We were featured on CNN and still make plans with each other while visiting different cities. We built a strong network that spans across space over an app.

As the saying goes “there is an app for that” there is also a group for everything. General professional networking mixed with some ratchet (see: Netwerk and Chill), food and cooking (shout out to my very own Chef Curry with the Pot) Game of Thrones, Insecure, Walking Dead, makeup, natural hair, the news, sports, brotherhood, sorority/fraternity business and the list goes on and on. The possibilities are endless.

GroupMe has created a platform for us to come together and create a safe ecosystem of our own. Having an arena to play in that is our own and somewhat more private than other forms of social media (although we know screenshots are still prevalent) has given us the ability to be accessible from any and everywhere. It isn’t the most traditional or formal way to meet and learn about people to say the least but I question what has been these last few years? Sending a friend request to someone so you can write on their wall? Following someone to see their online diary via Twitter? Sending a request to peak into someone’s social and private life via images? This isn’t to say you still don’t need to physically meet and be around people. Staying in the house and attempt to solely connect through a platform is deprivings you of the infinite opportunities that life has to offer. If used correctly, social media could jump start various connections for you. As the great artist Yo Gotti once quoted, “it goes down in the DM.”