Everything old is new again. Texting replaced talking on the phone, and for a lot of folks, it’s because they don’t want to listen to their friends. But now you can text an audio message. The technology has been available for a few years, and was meant to replace voice mail, which is time-consuming to access. But young people, the ones with the most up-to-date phones with an OS that can use it, don’t particularly like it.
In an ideal world, the voice text—also referred to as a voice note, voice message, or voice memo, and not to be confused with text dictation—is far less rambling than its despised predecessor. It typically arrives amid a written exchange and functions as a kind of conversational speed bump. If you’re lucky, it’s somewhere between 10 and 30 seconds. Anything longer than that, and it creeps into the territory of what a close WhatsAppian friend of mine calls “sneaky voicemail.” Reggaeton singer J Balvin is even more conservative in this department. Over the summer he suggested that anyone who could not keep their “notas de voz” between five and 10 seconds should just call, adding an aside that, roughly translated, read: “TEN MINUTES IS ONLY ALLOWED FOR MOMS.”
The reasoning behind these guidelines is simple. Listening to a voice text requires having your earbuds handy, or being in a relatively quiet, private space. It also means offering up something rare in the era of multitasking: your undivided attention. “Text messages are a much shorter read and you can get the bulk of the message without much effort,” said Graham Gerhart, a 25-year-old digital marketing specialist and one of the 28 texters I surveyed via Twitter for this story. “Voice notes require actually listening to the full communication.”
Still, there are advantages to voice text, and its use is spreading fast. This is causing a rift between those who embrace voice text and those who resist it. Read more about this new digital divide at The Ringer. <puts on curmudgeon hat>I’d just as soon make a “phone call.”</hat>