Sending voice notes doesn’t make you a narcissist, it improves human connection



When texting arrived, everything changed again. The way we communicated with our friends and family transformed faster than you could say “slide into my DMs”, and the need to verbally communicate had become null and void. We stopped talking and started typing lengthy missives about everything from what to buy at the shops for dinner to explainers about our marriage breakdowns.

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Then, just before we all accepted that in the near future, we’d never converse with other humans again, voice notes began trending.

Zoomers are the ones truly embracing it, returning to a time of the yore, albeit one they largely missed in the first place. For them, the trend makes sense. In the same way that millennials love vinyl records despite growing up on CDs, there’s a certain appeal to experiencing things that were cultural norms for generations before you, but that have been made redundant by the time you arrive. But it hasn’t taken long for millennials to get on board, which means it’s more than just anemoia.

Despite what haters say, it’s easy to establish an etiquette for voice notes. The friends who also love them usually respond in kind. I send a four-minute voice note about the latest character arc in whatever period drama I’m binge-watching, they send their own back. The ones who hate voice notes will respond with a text message, a response designed to steer me back into the land of tapping fingers that says, I love you, but this is not the medium for me.

Many hands have been wrung over the last decade about the lost art of conversation. What critics miss is the sense of connection that comes from talking in a time when a proper conversation is a thing of luxury.

We’re working longer hours, have high commute times, and are seeing record rates of burnout and exhaustion. From the moment I wake up, to the minute my head hits the pillow, I feel flat-chat most days.

Sure, there are activities I could multitask during, but our schedules don’t always match up with other peoples. When I’m walking the dog, for example, my sister might be in a meeting. When my mum calls me after work, I’m at the gym. Then follows a game of phone tag followed by a distraction-filled conversation that usually involves pasta boiling over or someone praying the conversation ends soon, so they can run to the bathroom.

With voice notes, we can enjoy the benefits of real conversations without the stress of finding time for them. I get to hear my loved ones, sense nuances in tone, and connect in a way text just can’t. It also allows each party to respond when they have a chance to, in a timeframe that works for both of them.

Rather than being a self-aggrandising expression of the arrogant, voice notes are a way back to the personal connection of conversation – just made more convenient.

Melissa Mason is a freelance writer.

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