Please don’t leave a message: Reasons to mourn the demise of voicemail


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Independent Voices

It was always one of the peculiar features of the tabloid phone-hacking saga that so many people apparently had so much to say to one another, but so infrequently seemed to have their calls answered by the individuals they wanted to talk to. Voicemail ruled.

Perhaps this reflected the fact that when hacking was at its peak, back in the early years of the last decade, we still had an innate desire to hear one another’s voices. Not any more: even traditional mobile-to-mobile texting is starting to feel dated now.

The news that Coca-Cola is to disconnect old-style voicemail at its headquarters in Atlanta may come as a slap in the face to anybody wanting to leave their well-considered thoughts on the answerphone of a Coke employee. But, in a world in which speed is increasingly of the essence, the prospect of no longer being forced to listen to the verbose and incoherent ramblings, which are so often the response to being asked to “leave a message after the tone”, will be a relief to many.

Of course, life without voicemail will take some getting used to. The drunken monologue from a friend or loved one, which could be gleefully replayed to them in the morning, will be a thing of the past. A self-destroying snap via Snapchat isn’t quite the same. Just think, if Friends had started its run in answerphone-less 2014, rather than pre-mobile 1994, Ross and Rachel might never have got together. 

The easy response to all this would be to shrug, and send a text or an email. But the slide towards the end of verbal communication is not something to be acceded to without regret. Digital text-conversations are all well and good – but they aren’t a patch on the real thing.