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Here’s why the internet is obsessed with ‘number neighbors’

Twitter has been taken over with screenshots of users trying to engage their “number neighbors” in conversation.

Some exchanges have wielded unexpected results, with “neighbors” participating in prank wars and meme exchanges and even forming virtual friendships.

If you spent any time on Twitter in the past week, you may have noticed users posting text conversations with strangers, declaring that the unknown phone number belongs to their “number neighbor.”

It’s not quite clear exactly how the trend reemerged, as it’s not a novel concept by any means, but it’s spread like wildfire this month across social media. All it involves is texting the phone number that’s only one digit off from yours — your virtual, almost-the-same number neighbor — and wait and see what happens.

The game has resulted in responses and ensuing conversations ranging from the hilarious to the bizarre. Some users found themselves exchanging memes and pictures, and other participants found themselves chatting with unsuspecting adults who were wholly confused — and sometimes upset— by the concept of number neighbors.

In one of the more viral interactions, a Twitter user described ending up with a new dog after finding out his number neighbor was moving and couldn’t take his dog with him.

Though a trend like number neighbors may reach such a level of virality that it seems impossible there are people who don’t know about it, bringing unaware participants into the fold can have some unintended consequences.

For 20-year-old Lauren Villares, her passing decision to see whether she could make friends with her number neighbor instead yielded accusations she was a “wannabe home-wrecker” from a jealous wife who didn’t understand how Villares got ahold of her husband’s phone number.

“I honestly wasn’t even expecting a reply from my number neighbor,” Villares told Business Insider. “After they sent the first message I thought it was just a joke and the person was messing with me but … I realized that this person’s wife was seriously mad and I found it comical.”

Some participants went a step further and orchestrated group chats for their entire number “neighborhoods”: all 10 of the people who have the same phone number, minus the last digit. That way, the odds that at least one person responds — and, as a result, that there’s at least one conversation worthy of sharing to social media — are significantly higher.

“I honestly was expecting none of them to answer … As the conversation picked up and the texts kept coming through, it was pure and constant laughter,” 16-year-old Madison Collier said about her number-neighborhood chat. “I’ve sent updates of the tweet that went viral in there, just to show the group chat how much Twitter loves us.”

But of course, on the flip side, there are bound to be some recipients of number neighbor texts who are already aware of the trend and are even one step ahead. Delanie Cairrao, 16, thought she had inadvertently texted a bot when she got a series of responses from what seemed like an automated texting service for booking hotel rooms asking her to respond with text commands like “STOP” and “AGENT” to avoid getting charged for a hotel reservation.

It turns out that Cairrao’s number neighbor was a hotel employee who was bored working on a Sunday and decided to play a prank with his coworker. Cairrao thought the joke was hilarious and ended up chatting for a while with the two guys (whose names are Ben and Shawn).

Cairrao’s post on Twitter has garnered nearly half a million retweets and likes from users who have shared screenshots of their own number-neighbor conversations — or lamented that their attempts at hilarity didn’t have nearly as successful results.

This article was originally published on Business Insider. Copyright 2019.

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