What is a ‘number neighbor’? The latest Internet phenomenon, explained
If you’ve recently gotten a text from a random stranger with a similar number, you’re not alone.
Texting your “number neighbor” is the newest big trend rocketing around the Internet. How it works is fairly simple: The instigator texts someone with the same number as them, with the last digit plus or minus one. (For example, if your number is 234-567-8910, then your neighbors would be 234-567-8911, and 234-567-8909.)
The instigator then tends to post screenshots of whatever conversation ensues on social media.
BuzzFeed credits a Twitter user who goes by “Ryan” for starting the trend in late July, posting the conversation with a baffled recipient to Twitter. (As of Aug. 12, the post has more than 127,000 likes.)
everyone text your phone number neighbor and tell us what they say— ryan (@ryanlavalleee) August 1, 2019
Since then, the challenge has picked up steam — particularly in the last week or so, when a woman purported to reach Captain America actor (and Sudbury native) Chris Evans when she texted her number neighbor. She posted an apparent screenshot of a Facetime call to Twitter on Aug. 7.
Despite the post racking up hundreds of thousands of likes, Evans himself debunked the post as fraudulent two days later.
Evans isn’t the only celebrity the latest craze has touched. Bebe Rexha, a pop singer known for hits like “Meant to Be,” “Call You Mine,” “I’m a Mess,” and “2 Souls on Fire,” texted her number neighbor and posted the interaction to Twitter on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Ryan Seacrest and Vanessa Hudgens explained the trend on “Live with Kelly and Ryan” last week.
“This is one of those ridiculous things that has completely caught the world by storm,” Seacrest said, by way of explanation.
“I can’t even keep up with the people I love in my life,” Hudgens said, later adding, “Not into that.”
Seacrest then texted his number neighbor in front of the studio audience, but the response turned out to be pretty lackluster: “Wrong number.”
However, not every number neighbor conversation is light or innocuous. One woman in California reportedly filed a police report after she played along with the game, and received death threats in response.
According to NBC, the recipient of the woman’s text “threatened to kill her in a series of terrifying messages, insisting that he was on his way to her house.” She also reportedly received videos of someone loading guns, as well as dozens of phone calls — even after she blocked the phone number.
“I just really don’t think you should even talk to any strangers,” the woman said, according to NBC.