I really, really, really dislike voice messages.
Just imagine this post would be a voice message. Would you listen to it?
I doubt it. So much effort for a blog post? Nah man, I’ll pass. And that’s perfectly fine.
I write because I don’t wanna waste your time. But that’s exactly what you do when you send someone a WhatsApp voice message: wasting the other person’s time.
Why is that?
It takes longer to listen to something than to read something
Assume again that this post was a voice message. Medium states the article takes 3 minutes to read — but it’d take a lot longer to listen to. Unless you’re a big fan of my soothing, deep voice with unclear pronunciation and way-to-fast manner fo speaking, you probably wouldn’t listen to it. Too much effort, too much time.
From my own experience, I tend to reply quickly to text messages, even if they’re longer. But to a voice message? Usually takes me between an hour and a week to get back. Because it’s just so exhausting to listen to it. And that’s not all.
Voice messages put the effort onto the receiver, not the sender
Granted, this isn’t true for all of them. But most of the time what you say in two minutes of yourself rambling could be said in 3–4 sentences writing. Writing takes effort. It takes the energy to think through what you actually want to say — and that’s hard, let alone the effort of typing on a tiny-ass smartphone screen (which is why WhatsApp Web is killer, btw).
When you record a voice message, you’re putting the burden of deciphering the meaning of your communication not onto yourself, but onto the other person. Which in turn suggests that you value your time more than the other person’s.
That’s not how you build respectful relationships.
It’s impossible to know if a voice message actually contains relevant content
Look, I think it’s awesome that you had a great night partying and that your mother-in-law is doing well. But after 2:37 of voice message, I still cannot discern if it actually contains valuable information or if it’s all about your exams that are coming up. So I keep listening. At 4:12, I get to the part where your dog took a dump on your carpet, and at 5:07 you inform me that, well, that’s all and you wish me a great day.
Why, thank you — but did you really just have to waste 5 minutes of my time? I thought something of value for me was still coming. :(
So actually — thank you not. 😡
Am I holier than thou? Hell no. I use voice messages too, and sometimes because I’m lazy and thoughtless. But sometimes, there are use cases in which a voice message makes sense:
- when you want to send a personalized message to someone (I do this for birthdays a lot)
- when someone asks you a very specific question and the answer is rather long (then, after all, the receiver of the voice message has lots of incentive to listen to it)
- when you can’t type for whatever reason — but then again, should you really voice message and drive? 😉
But most of the time, it’d be better to simply send a text message.
Especially when all you have to say is: “ok”.
I’d like to extend a big thank you to the author of an article I’ve read in the SZ Magazin a few months ago and especially to my friends K., F. and N. for the inspiration. 😘