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Why Voice Notes Are Better Than Texting

I have officially joined the cult.


By Gee Kay, Contributor

I'm in, and I won't apologise for it. Source: Reproduction / Aline Batista


So, apparently, I have an unpopular opinion on voice notes (VN). No, not the voice-to-text grammar-free stream of consciousness paragraph from your dad, or an old-school answering machine. I am referring to the audio clips one records to express themselves, transmitted and received via a telecommunications device, like sending a friend a quick audio message via Whatsapp when you can't be bothered typing. For some, the thought of auditorily recording themselves while pottering around the house or walking down the street is simply too cringeworthy to fathom. Hearing themselves chat away whilst knowing no-one is on the other end of the line is just too shameful a barrier to cross.

It was just too awkward to contemplate. Source: GiPHY


I, however, have crossed that great divide, and am proud to report that I have never looked back.

They got me. Source: GiPHY

Much like the change of Microsoft Word document formats from .doc to .docx; my launch to VNs was a soft one. No one really noticed and there were no dire consequences.


My ‘first time’ was a few years ago in a foreign country. (Exotic, right?) In this region, VNs were commonplace; I would even go as far as to say they were the preferred way of communicating. So, it was no surprise that on one particular day, in a land far far away, my friend (who was living there at the time) sent me a VN with suggested arrangements for lunch.

My initial reaction. Source: GiPHY


This was not the first time she had decided to send me a voice note. In fact, since I had arrived, she had been replying to my standard Whatsapp text messages with her thoughts in audio form, going about her daily business; exiting a bus or perusing a supermarket aisle (clues and conclusions I gathered from noises I could hear in the background). She sent me these VNs as if it was just...nothing. But...didn’t she realise that everyone around her could hear her conversion... to herself?! While initially in shock, I tried to keep an open mind.

Maybe this place had changed her.

Maybe she was proving to herself that she could fit in.

Maybe she didn’t care what strangers thought of her anymore.

Maybe NOTHING mattered anymore, and everything I knew about social norms and the intensity in which strangers scrutinised my behaviour was all a LIE.

Existential crises always arrive when you least expect. Source: GiPHY

Anyway.

This particular day when my friend sent me a VN asking if I’d like to meet at the ‘good’ falafel place or the ‘new’ falafel place, something in me changed.

I can’t put my finger on exactly what happened. I listened to her message and afterwards, I just naturally decided to send a VN in reply. “Hey! New falafel place sounds good. See you there at 1pm!”


And there it was.

I had taken my phone up to my mouth, recorded a message and pressed send. It felt like I had bought alcohol for the first time, with a REAL I.D. A whole world of alcohol had been there the whole time, on display and out of reach. Now I had the entire shop to choose from, and I had an actual license to start drinking the good stuff.

Seems legit. Source: GiPHY


From that day onward, I gradually began to indulge in longer VNs. Thirty seconds, sixty seconds, TWO WHOLE MINUTES (!!) Updates to my family back home with my news of the day. Gossip to my friends with details of the night before. Detailed feedback and analysis of the ‘good’ falafel place versus the ‘new’ falafel place.


There was no stopping me.


Fast forward 6 years and now, I am a proud Voice Noter and will not be shamed. You heard me! In fact, I have found that VNs have been somewhat of an essential service in lockdown if you will.

Hear this (pun intended):

  • VNs can save time by talking rather than typing. (Also good for the lazy texter, aka me).

  • I can walk and talk during my permitted outside exercise time (RIP 1-hour time limits!)

  • I can really hear if people are doing fine, or doing ‘fine’ (tone of voice makes up 38% of communication, after 55% body language and 7% actual words).

  • I can send my friends in different time zones comprehensive updates on my iso hobbies, and in turn, listen to their personal podcasts.

  • I can verify whether my jokes garner a genuine ‘LOL’.

  • I can set boundaries with reply times to VNs, which = less anxiety about needing to reply straight away.

  • VNs feel more like I am genuinely connecting with people.

VNs seem weird at first. I get it. But they help me feel closer to the people I care for, which is why they are better than texting.

I am a proud Voice Noter and will not be shamed!

VNs forever! Source: GiPHY

Read more from Gee Kay here.

Everything you need for the conversations you have at brunch.

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