Have you ever been at for loss of words when responding to a text message? Of course you have. The frustration of staring at your phone, unable to think of an appropriate or witty response to an important text is a common issue these days. Of course, it’s more convenient when you’re with a friend who can offer some suggestions, but what if you’re alone and need some input ? — about the really sweet guy who’s been messaging you too much or to the girl who wants her shirt back and will be at your house in 10 minutes if you don’t answer? There’s an app for that! God, I love saying that. Nattr is a new smartphone app that allows users to crowdsource text responses from a network of contributors. I took the new app for a spin.
After I signed up and followed some suggested contributors, I arrived at the front page where users anonymously post screenshots or descriptions of text messages they can’t answer solo, without counsel. Initially, I noticed that this app is quite popular among teenage girls who are trying to flirt with guys without being too forward. While some Nattr users graciously guided some of these girls, offering flirty yet safe material, others took it as a chance to be annoying trolls, albeit clever ones. See BoozedOffStage’s and RB27’s responses for some Grade-A clever trolling.
Nattr uses “charms” as a currency that users accrue (for free by sharing Nattr with their friends on Twitter and Facebook, or for a low price like $0.99 for 100 charms). Users spend when they solicit answers from star responders. Star responders are comedians and writers handpicked by the Nattr team to provide the best responses. Whether you want to say something temperate, funny, or just goofy, star responders can help you compose workable responses. Regular Nattr users can also earn stars by garnering likes for the feedback they’ve offered others, but that requires a well-established fan base on the app. Most of us are just here to get a quick tip from someone with a removed, fresh perspective.
After familiarizing myself with the app’s features, I decided to do what I came here for: Crowdsourced answers to a tricky texting situation. While my trial run of Nattr was underway, I wasn’t ensnared in any particularly stressful texting conversations. So I decided to have my roommate text me a series of confusing messages, pretending to be a guy I had gone on a date with once. I wanted to really test the prowess of my app supporters, so I threw them a curveball. I posted a gif of Larry David, accompanied by a gushing request to share a secret with me. I complicated things more, and noted I wasn’t so into the guy and therefore didn’t really care about his secret. How can I respond to him without coming off as a complete asshole?
I was pleasantly surprised by the volume of responses I received — and how quickly I received them. Within a matter of minutes, Nattr users were giving me suggestions on how to back away from this unattractive overshare. DoctorCha, for example, didn’t offer a possible response, but she did help me read the situation more closely: it could have easily been a setup for a lame pickup line. EGGS, on the other hand, suggested that I respond with a rude, cunning retort, while Lostin8 drafted out an entire message for me. Obviously, though, my favorite response was from MisterWrite, who was the only person to address the Larry David gif and incorporate that into his response. Pretty pretty pretty good, MisterWrite.
There are, however, some aspects of the app I found unsettling. First and foremost, it functions on a basis of normative gender roles. When a Nattr user posts a solicitation for assistance, the only thing that other Nattr users can see is their gender and age. Why should the gender of the user at all influence their response? If gender is factored into your suggestions, that means you’re likely assuming most users are straight. In 2016, that doesn’t fly with me. By the same token, I also found it upsetting that there were so many young women on here who were trying to avoid “sounding like a slut.” That doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the app itself, but Nattr displayed the wide scope of this issue. It’s upsetting to see young women feeding into society’s restraint of their sexuality by reaffirming offensive labels.
But when it comes down to it, Nattr is an engaging app that fixes a problem people often encounter these days. The best apps are solve an issue that everyone experiences, but that no one can exactly pinpoint. That’s exactly what Nattr has done. You’ve definitely agonized over a text message response, but did you ever think, “There should be an app for this”? Probably not. For a creative premise alone, Nattr gets 50 gold stars.