Adam’s Rant: What Ever Happened to the Voice Mail?

How much do my friends HATE it when I leave a voice mail. I’m not joking, I get RAILED constantly by my closest friends who have no qualms informing me that short of their mother and grandparents, I am the only person in their lives still leaving voice mail. Am I alone in this?

Why the voice mail hate on? What’s wrong with leaving a funny message (which I almost always opt for by the way) to let a friend know you’re thinking about them and want them to hear the sincerity in your voice. In an age where mis-reading text messages is a five time daily occurrence, how can anyone be down on my attempt to bring clarity to a situation by clearly explaining and emoting what I want to communicate? While I’ll get into my reasons for vm’ing later, I just wanted to posit the basic and starting off question: What happened to the voice mail? What year was it exactly that this method of indicating to someone that you need to speak with them became antiquated and (apparently) annoying? I often get quoted: “Adam, I have call display, so I know you called and I’ll get back to you when I can.” Well smartypants, maybe I don’t want you to get back to me, and maybe I didn’t or couldn’t text, did you ever think about that? And, WHY ARE YOU YELLING AT ME? It’s just a voice mail! You may think I’m tending for my usual histrionics here, but this issue is no laughing (well, fine, it kind of is) matter with my group of friends as we constantly battle to voice mail or not to voice mail.

My greatest argument for the voice mail has to be the relative connection it still offers us in an age of fb wall posts and WhatsApp messaging. There’s no human relation in typed words and emoticons and often they can be SO easily misconstrued that they’re more trouble than they’re worth. Yes, if I need to tell a friend I’m sitting outside his place and waiting for him to come down, a text will suffice. If I’m wanting to let my best friend know I’m sorry he lost his job and am here to talk when he’s ready: that’s when I leave a voice mail (short of being able to talk to him directly of course). There’s something more personal and time consuming- indicating effort in my books- about leaving a voice mail and I argue it’s a lost art. Not only for somber purposes, voice mails are meant to be funny and elicit a smile from your buddy when they hear your crazed voice on the other end ranting about the craziest hookup in the world you just had on their voice mail! Be funny, be sweet just know that you’re being you and your friend can hear and feel that in your voice where reading it in a grey text bubble.

My second- and possibly more personal excuse/reason- is that I drive everywhere, all the time. I can’t be whipping out my phone at the intersection every time I remember a message I need to pass along and risk a “Distracted Driving” ticket, so, going handless and having Siri call a friend to leave a vm is the way to go for me. My life is not a typical 9-5 and I’m often free when others aren’t and vice versa so leaving a message to find a time that matches both of our schedules to check in is not simple and voice mail allows me some artistic freedom that a quick text might not. That said, when I DO try and get cute and write out what I want to say, people complain I have the longest novella-esque text bubbles that take up three of their screens and that “ain’t nobody got time for that”. Well, idiots, if you were fine with a voice mail you wouldn’t be complaining about the length but rather laughing while listening to me rambling on for MAYBE two minutes as you walk from your office to your car. It isn’t that big a deal!

Finally, while friends grant me that voice mails are best used for telling the answering machine at your dentist’s office your next best available time for a cleaning, they torture me to this day for my dinosaur use of this still relevant piece of technology. My best friend and owner of the site Patrick has revealed to me that he doesn’t even have iPhone’s Visual Voice Mail to streamline and support using the vm system because that’s how little he uses that part of his phone. Seriously, no Visual Voice Mail?! Am I just becoming that old or is this the neo-luddite in me that just won’t let go of the good ol’ days? I’d love to hear your thoughts and see if there’s anyone else out there like me but certainly welcome the opinion of the vm-hating masses! Just leave a message after the BEEP!!!

  • In Agreement

    Seriously! I don’t see anything wrong with leaving VM. Like you said, they’re personal and they allow you to be fun rather than a plain text message. Also, I like to keep and replay the cute/silly ones! Those that snark about Voice Mail are just choosing to disengage from real talk/emotion because of convenience/laziness or they’re so ADD/lack creativity that they “ain’t got time for that” in my opinion.

  • michael

    Generally speaking, I’m apathetic toward VM. If that’s how you want to reach me then by all means leave a message. However, some messages are annoying as hell and they tend to be from the same personality types. There’s the energy suck where I can tell that they need to get in touch with me asap so they can suck all the life force they can out of me. They are the weak and whiney messages I want to delete the minute I hear the first word. Then there’s the person who leaves messages so long they have to call back and finish on another VM. Actually, I never hear people ambiguously saying they hate VM messages so maybe it’s just your’s Adam. I mean seriously, look at the this article you wrote about it. Who the hell writes this much whining about such a mundane subject?

  • Nelson

    i agree with you. I prefer leaving voicemails. I live in Dominican Republic, and most people’s cell plans are prepaid, and they don’t use their minutes on VM… I, However, do. And when i am reproached for not calling someone, i tell them to check their voicemail…and lo and behold…there it is…