Intimate or irritating: are voice notes killing the phone call?

For some generations, voice notes have replaced text messages and even phone calls. But are they the future of communication – or just plain annoying?

I lay on my bedroom carpet looking at the blue of the ceiling, feeling like I was in a teen movie. My phone buzzed and I picked it up to respond to my crush’s last text – except this time it wasn’t a text, but a voice note, a short audio file you send via Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp. It was the first time I’d heard his voice – it was flat, low and attractive. He asked me how my day had gone. My stomach fluttered because I knew this meant he wanted to get closer to me, yet I also freaked out because there was so much pressure to get my response right.

At first, I ignored the switch in communication and started typing out a message, because I hate my voice – the way I can hear my nerves prickle through my speech, the high pitch of my intonation and the number of times I say “like”. But don’t voice notes feel so much more intimate? Hearing the subtleties of the other person’s speech, as if they were whispering in your ear – and I wanted to get closer to him. So I focused on getting comfy, and pushed the record button. In response to his “How was your day?” I started telling him about the bike I had just got. “It hurts so much on your vulva. I only lasted about 10 minutes before I limped off.”

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