The Wall Street JournalThe Wall Street Journal

The year of the voice message: a modern guide to phone etiquette

By Magdalene J. Taylor

28 Sep 2022 · 6 min read

Nathan Heinrich, 41 years old, feels totally disconnected from his younger sister. It isn’t as if they’re estranged. In fact, the writer and designer from West Nyack, N.Y, says they’re in touch plenty. The problem: This year, she suddenly started communicating exclusively through recorded voice messages, colloquially called voice notes or voice memos, a feature that’s been available on Apple’s iMessage since June 2014.

His sister, Hilary Heinrich, a busy 32-year-old teacher in San Luis Obispo, Calif., says the technology nicely combines aspects of both phone calls and texts. “It allows me to have a continuous conversation that I can pick up at any time, on my availability,” she said. Mr. Heinrich, however, finds that having to respond to her voice notes in kind makes him feel like a trucker on a CB radio. “Traffic ahead going southbound on I-90. Over. Hope you had a great weekend. Over.”

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