For Gen Z, are voice notes are the new text? : NPR

Voice notes, a feature that has existed in popular apps like Apple’s iMessages for many years, has become a favorite form of communication among single-text speakers who can only say so much.

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Voice notes, a feature that has existed in popular apps like Apple’s iMessages for many years, has become a favorite form of communication among single-text speakers who can only say so much.

Screenshots of Emma Bowman

Best friends Hope Sloop and Bobbi Miller first met on TikTok. Although they have known each other for less than a year, they rarely meet face-to-face because they live on opposite shores. But one particular form of communication kept them close: voice messages.

Also known as “voice text,” “voice notes,” and “audio messages” — not to be confused with voice-to-text through virtual assistants like Siri — voice messaging is a feature that integrated in messaging apps including iMessage and WhatsApp.

“Between Bobbi and I, we can send each other 10 to 50 calls a day,” Sloop said. “Very much.”

Messages can mess up meaning and calls can cause anxiety. But for many people, short voice recordings offer an easier, less stressful alternative in a world increasingly familiar with audio media like Clubhouses and podcasts.

The ability to communicate in tone is an important part of attractiveness.

Miller said of her friendship with Sloop: “We could hear the sheer joy in each other’s voices. “Or if we’re going through something, such as getting stuck, sometimes in writing, the severity of the situation isn’t always relayed.”

“It really just helps to minimize any gray areas in what you’re talking about. It’s very, very direct, and I think it’s much more conversational,” Miller added.

Miller and Sloop, both 24, are not unusual in their Gen Z group. While this feature has been available in popular apps for more than a decade, it is increasingly becoming a favorite way of connecting, especially among the younger generation.

According to a recent YouGov . survey made by Vox, 62% of Americans say they have sent voice messages, and about 30% communicate by voice messages weekly, daily, or several times a day. And 43% of the 18- to 29-year-olds who responded to the survey said they use the feature at least weekly.

WhatsApp revealed last year that on average 7 billion voice messages was sent daily on the app.

In times of isolation, the explosion of sound-friendly technology can affect our communication style

For some, the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred the use of contact form.

Immediately after launch, the Chinese messaging app WeChat added this feature in 2011. WhatsApp has arrived a few years Later. Apple catches the fad, released voice messages on iMessage in 2014.

But in 2020, those who yearn to stay connected while at home have found their social lifeline in voice notes.

“I miss verbally chatting with friends and family members, so these days it’s comforting to hear their voices over the speakerphone of my phone.” Nicole Gallucci wrote for Mashable that year.

At the same time, audio-heavy social media is emerging. clubs, which launched the same month as the US lockdowns, drew millions to the app’s live sound rooms. Twitter responded with its own audio-only town hall feature, Spaces. Dating apps Hinge and Bumble have also caught on.

As voice messaging increasingly becomes a consumer preference, trend forecasting company Trendera reports a simultaneous shift in increased consumption of podcasts, audiobooks and other audio-only content.

So voice messaging doesn’t seem like a big leap anymore.

With more people working from home since the pandemic disrupted the workplace, few accept having to wait until they find a quiet place to listen to audio texts.

No wonder Miller, the organizer her own podcast embracing pop culture, has become comfortable enough to hear his own voice to send friends minute-long messages.

Her friends jokingly called the letters “podcast Bobbi.”

However, this feature has people who hate it. Talla Kuperman, a jewelry designer in her 40s, said: ‘I really despise people using voice notes instead of plain old text messages. speak The Wall Street Journal. After receiving lengthy voice notes, she thinks, in the absence of common etiquette for them, some are too time-consuming. “I actually find it very selfish,” she said.

Voice notes can help us stay connected

Research shows that you don’t have to be a fan of voice messages to get their benefits.

Amit Kumar, assistant professor of marketing and psychology at the University of Texas-Austin, told NPR: “There’s a basic communication method that connects people to their social needs, and that’s hearing voices. speak”.

for a piece of paper published in 2021, he researched the benefits and limitations of different forms of technology-enabled communication. He found that voice-related interactions (phone, video chat, and voice chat) created stronger social bonds and did not increase feelings of awkwardness when compared to interactions. text-based (e-mail, text chat). However, he said his research shows that “asynchronous” forms of communication such as voice notes, which do not involve back-and-forth dialogue, cannot replace the benefits of calls.” sync” allows us to acquire language. cues for a more responsive, seamless conversation.

The appeal of voice notes

So why not choose a call? First, technology fatigue includes phone calls.

“For whatever reason, traditional phone calls are increasingly becoming a work-related activity,” says Jasmine Golphin, a 36-year-old filmmaker.

Voice notes also don’t require spending time alone on the phone, she says.

People NPR spoke to for this story said they tended to be a lot more forgiving when expecting a quick response to voice notes. The fact that read receipts — the timestamps that would annoy you if you’ve seen the message but haven’t replied — aren’t an option on voice notes takes some of the pressure off.

“I don’t have the same level of anxiety about whether someone will respond, because I don’t know if they’re listening,” says Miller. “It gives people reasonable denial.”

Then there is the beauty of the ephemerality of musical notes. On the iPhone’s messaging platform, if you don’t “hold” a voice message within two minutes of receiving it, the message will disappear. (You can also adjust the expiration length to “never” in the settings). That eliminates the “get it right” form, with the added benefit of not wasting phone memory.

When Gen Z revives outdated technology, like movies and Point and shoot cameraSloop argues that voice notes — reminiscent of walkie-talkies — similarly cater to the demographic’s nostalgia trend, providing a respite from the abundance of other technology.

Plus, it’s just plain fun, she said.

“Every time I get a 4-minute, 3-minute podcast voice message, it’s always like, let me get my little popcorn,” says Sloop. “Something that’s going to be said is going to be interesting. It’s going to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. It’s a narrative experience.”


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