Ditching voice mail, maybe Millennials have it right

OK, Millennials. We’ll bite.

What have you got against leaving voice mails?


The story that NPR is working on has already been done.

Vonage reported earlier this year that voice mail use has dropped significantly, although it didn’t provide any demographic data to support the notion that it’s a “Millennial thing.”

But the New York Times declared it a Millennial thing earlier this summer, contending that the younger generations don’t know how to leave voicemails.

Even millennials who came of age before cellphones were ubiquitous regard voice mail as a source of performance anxiety. Kate Greathead, 31, a writer in New York and a friend of mine, didn’t enjoy leaving voice mail messages for friends in college, “but it had to happen, and I would do it,” she said.

Have her messaging abilities atrophied in the age of texting? “Definitely,” she said. “I’m fine telling a story in front of 400 strangers, but get dry-mouthed when leaving a voice mail.” (She is a four-time Moth StorySLAM winner.)

Her preparedness, at least, would please Ms. Napier-Fitzpatrick, who advises clients to rehearse important messages.

“Sometimes I write a script out beforehand,” Ms. Greathead said. “Most voice mail has an option to review your message. If it doesn’t have that, I don’t always leave one. If it does, I’ll review it before sending it and sometimes do different takes. Though I’ve learned not to trust that function. Once I accidentally recorded two versions of the same voice mail.”

The Washington Post gave the generation a little more respect, acknowledging the existence of “The Millennial Code,” : If it mattered, it’d be texted.

A phone is not for making calls.

Phones are actually devices that you use to avoid talking to people, and anyone who thinks otherwise is surely older than 30.

Look at your smartphone. This slim, elegant screen can transport you instantly to the Internet, show you videos of all kinds, allow you to play complex and time-wasting games, send detailed e-mails and even provide you with robotic companionship. (“Siri, what are you wearing?”) Why on earth would you waste all this bounty on a phone call?

How you feel about this probably hinges on your age. But keep an open mind. On his blog, Ryan Jenkins suggests we consider just how inefficient a phone call is.

05 sec: Notice call and contemplate whether or not to answer.
10 sec: Put in bluetooth or headphones (in case you have to result to multi-tasking).
01 min: Answer and salutations.
02 min: Small talk about the weather or the weekend.
03 min: Discuss message/purpose of the call.
02 min: Listen to other frivolous details/stories surrounding the main message.
30 sec: Conclusion and goodbyes.
01 min: Entertain the “Oh, one other thing…” thoughts.
15 min: Hang-up then physically and mentally switch back to the pre-call project. (A Microsoft study found it takes 15min to refocus after an interruption.)
24 minutes 45 seconds: Total Time Costs Of A Phone Call