Helen Lewis Has Left the Chat


Critic Rating

Have you ever been trapped in a group chat nightmare, either grabbing the popcorn or wondering how to leave without causing a scene? Who’s the admin in your family group, and do they wield that power responsibly? Do you ever wonder if it’s appropriate to use emojis when talking to your boss? The rise of instant messaging has made our social and professional lives faster, more casual — and more chaotic. But amid all the discussion of the effects of public social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, there has been relatively little attention paid to private social networks—the direct message and the group chat — and how they are shaping our relationships and our world. In this series, Helen Lewis looks at the secret world of instant messaging, meeting a woman who married a chatbot, discovering how Russian dissidents are fighting a propaganda war, and hearing the inside story of how Britain ended up governed from a single WhatsApp group. It’s a strange new world where workplace rebellions are conducted through duelling emojis and military secrets are traded on chat forums about a video game . It’s also a world where you can never be quite sure who you’re talking to—and who’s eavesdropping on you. <<Only on the free BBC SOUNDS app>

Critic Reviews

Score: 4

James Marriot • The Times UK Apr 18, 2024

"...fascinating new Radio 4 show...Lewis starts with the small-scale horrors of the parents’ WhatsApp group, the neighbourhood group and the family group. There are some brilliant stories."

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Score: 5

Edward Wickham • Church Times Apr 12, 2024

"The deceits are breathtaking in their audacity, and yet are simple. Lewis may be over-playing her hand by claiming that this subject offers entirely fresh investigative territory, but her series at least aspires to uncover the ways in which private social networks affect our social, cultural, and political behaviour."

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Score: 4

Jude Rogers • The Guardian Apr 6, 2024

"Its premise is lively – an exploration of how the messy worlds of private messaging have shaped our identities and interactions – but this introductory episode feels frothy and scattergun, full of pastiched electronic pop interludes, random anecdotes and Lewis punctuating the tension by saying things such as “uh-oh”, as if we’re overhearing a Teletubbies rerun…"

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