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regular-article-logo Saturday, 22 June 2024

Voice notes are everywhere but are you using them?

Instead of texting and calling, more and more people, especially members of Gen X and Y are sending audio messages

Mathures Paul Published 23.05.24, 10:18 AM
Social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, X and Snapchat offer voice notes in their direct messages.

Social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, X and Snapchat offer voice notes in their direct messages. iStock

If you have seen the HBO show Hacks, there is a memorable line. Hannah Einbinder’s Gen Z character, Ava, tells her boomer employer, Deborah Vance: “I had a horrible nightmare that I got a voicemail.” Sorry everyone, the dreaded voices note is everywhere and many of us have to sit through the weirdest of them in public spaces.

Instead of texting and calling, more and more people, especially members of Gen X and Y are sending audio messages. It could be sign that we are craving human connection.

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Voice notes became popular after Apple gave it an important place on the iPhone. Since then, the feature has been on every other social media and messaging platform. To send a voice message, all that the user needs to do is press and hold a microphone icon, ramble as long as you want and then send it off. Most apps allow you to review your note before it is sent through. At times, voice notes disappear after they are played. At times voice messages are so long that that they are called “mini podcasts”.

One of the reasons behind the success of voice notes is that a section of phone users want to take a break from looking at screens. Second, it gives a sense of intimacy. But then there is the issue of listening to a voice note. Most of the time we don’t have a set of wireless earbuds on us, meaning you have to listen to a voice note in public and the message can be embarrassing.

Social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, X and Snapchat offer voice notes in their direct messages. Snap said voice note usage has gone up 50 per cent during the past two years. Celebrities like Cardi and Serena Williams are sharing voice notes with their followers on Meta’s Threads and Spotify says its number of regular podcast listeners has increased several times since 2019. In 2022, WhatsApp calculated that about 7 billion voice messages were sent on the app daily. According to a 2023 YouGov survey conducted by Vox, 62 per cent of Americans say they've sent a voice message, and about 30 per cent communicate by voice message weekly, daily or multiple times a day. And 43 per cent of 18- to 29-year-olds who responded to the survey said they use the feature at least weekly.

Amit Kumar, an assistant professor of marketing and psychology at the University of Texas-Austin, has told NPR that he found that interactions involving voice (phone, video chat and voice chat) produced stronger social bonds and no increased feelings of awkwardness when compared with text-based interactions (e-mail, text chat).

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