Whether you love ’em or hate ’em, there’s no escaping the prominence of Zoom, Houseparty and more in today’s quarantine era.

But while these group video chat platforms are certainly a great way to catch up with a bunch of your pals at once (and feel like they’re almost there with you in person), they can also be quite draining or anxiety-inducing, depending on who you are.

That said, some of the invites to these chat opportunities are easier to get out of than others. If it’s late at night, you can always pull the “I’m going to bed” card, but if something is planned in advance (ie. a birthday, celebratory shower or themed party), they’re not always as simple to avoid without hurting someone’s feelings.

If you cringe when you hear the word “Zoom,” keep reading for how to respectfully decline a friend’s group video chat invite.


1. Explain Why These Calls Give You Anxiety

Everyone’s different. While some people feel compelled to be in contact with their friends 24/7, others are a bit more independent and off doing their own thing. Additionally, some people have social anxiety and don’t do well in groups, period. Or maybe there are people invited in the chat who you don’t care for all that much. Whatever the case, there are plenty of reasons to either love or hate these social interactions.

Because of this, you should never feel obligated to commit to something that makes you uncomfortable. With work or school, Zooms often come with the territory, but when it comes to your personal life (especially during a pandemic when tensions are running at their highest), you’ve got to look out for your mental health, first and foremost—and if that means steering clear from group video chats, explain to your friend how you feel. If they can’t respect your discomfort in these situations, then my goodness, you don’t want to be in a chat with them anyway.

Shutterstock: Woman holding a phone and looking annoyed

(via Shutterstock)


2. Don’t Be Afraid to Say You’re Busy!

When quarantine first began, we all laughed about how we had all the time in the world to do anything (and nothing), and that some of us didn’t even bother paying attention to the hours on our phones anymore. But now, two months into this whole experience, we’ve eased into our new routines, schedules and ways of doing things. And yes, some of us are actually… busy.

While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with using this time to relax and recharge, some people have their plates full, or maybe they feel like Zooms are simply a waste of time. Even if your busyness refers to your workout routine, whipping up dinner or watching a movie, you’re entitled to be on your own personal schedule—and you should feel comfortable letting your friend know.


3. Schedule Some 1:1 Time to Catch-Up Instead

If the person who reached out is important to you, let them know you’re not side-stepping an interaction with them altogether. If they’re a real friend, they’ll not only respect your decision to ignore the group chat, but they’ll appreciate it even more if you tell them you value 1:1 time with them as opposed to everyone talking over everyone in a Zoom or Houseparty. Set aside time for just you two, and make it extra special by incorporating a virtual meal, coffee or something else you can enjoy together (from afar), or even hopping on a traditional phone call if you’re aiming to avoid video at all costs.

Pretty Little Liars: Aria talking on the phone

(Pretty Little Liars via Freeform)


Feel obligated to sign on to one of these dreaded discussions? HERE’s how to make video chats more enjoyable if you hate them.