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February 25, 2010

Comments

I think there may be a generational divide on this.

I have a good friend in another city with whom I speak - yes, over the phone - regularly. Not because anyone died, just because we're friends.

So sometimes I call and he's not there, so I leave a message much like "Hi, just calling to say hello." I don't see the problem. If anything, it seems less intrusive than a text message.

Of course I'm talking about an answring machine (you attach it to your landline. Remember all that?) and not cell-phone voicemail, but still.

If you dont want voicemail why not say so in your voicemail message?

BY:

To be clearer, I use the phone still - especially for people in other cities/countries.

This is more about pointless calls.

The difference between a text and a voicemail are as follows:

With a text, your mobile phone pings/vibrates, you look down, check the text and move on.

With a voicemail, your mobile phone pings/vibrates, you have to dial voicemail, wait for the ring, wait for the menu to be read, listen to the message, then delete.

It's just a more cumbersome, time consuming way to receive a message that could have just as easily been texted.

But I admit to potential generational variance in mileage.

Thank you.

Now that I've taught my parents how to text, I'm tempted to get rid of voicemail all together.

(It's true that there are reasons to have it. But I still hate checking it.)

I don't text. So eff off.

Then we can't be friendz hsh ;)

Though I agree in the case of cell phones that, if you have or know the caller's number, there's no need to leave a message more or less anouncing the call.

I'm sort of a Luddite and still have a landline with an answering machine in my house. My pet peeve is the caller who decides to have the conversation he would have had had my wife or I answered, but with my answering machine. Just tell me generally what you called about and we'll talk later.

Texting is difficult when you have a twelve button phone. Not everyone has a qwerty keyboard on their phone.
I am from the in between generation. I consider it rude to get an answering machine/voicemail without leaving a message.
As for the minute wasting options you have to listen through when you retrieve voicemail, that should be eliminated. I don't know how.
The spell check suggestions for texting are testing, tenting, and textile. The suggestions for voicemail include voiceless.

"But I admit to potential generational variance in mileage."

This is surely true. My children (ages 26-31) send a few thousand texts a month and have almost no talking minutes, even though they only have a cell phone. We spent an entire Thanksgiving dinner discussing the generational differences.

For example, if you dont leave a vm when you call her then my wife won't call you back, assuming it wasn't important. If you leave my son a vm message he will text you to see if it was urgent, but may or may not ever listen to the vm.

I only leave vm if I have a specific time sensitive question I need answered. Otherwise I don't transfer the responsibility for the next call by leaving the "I called" message. My wife never calls me back, but i am not sure that is a generational issue. :)

I only leave vm if I have a specific time sensitive question I need answered. Otherwise I don't transfer the responsibility for the next call by leaving the "I called" message. My wife never calls me back, but i am not sure that is a generational issue. :)

See, that's perfect usage. If you're leaving a detailed message about directions, or if it's time sensitive, that is totally acceptable.

The worst possible abuse of communication technology is when someone leaves you a voicemail and says some variation of either: (1) "Hi, just calling to say hello"; or (2) "Call me."

Disagree; for me, the worst abuse of communication technology is when Alan Grayson's robocaller invites me to a town hall meeting, currently in progress, and then my answering machine actually joins the meeting, which proceeds to take up all available storage on my machine.

That's my testimony. On the plus side, for Grayson, that incident didn't make me substantially less likely to vote for him next time.

Hopefully my machine did not voice any opinions that I am not fully in agreement with.

It HAS been known to hog the microphone, so who knows?

If your answering machine begins referring to itself as HAL or you as Dave, it's time to worry.

Even if the text is too short, text me. It's free on my plan, and voicemail is a pain... too much blabbering, ums, uhs, and ahs before getting to the point.

Eric,

We are talking landline vs. cell phone. Retrieving messages from an answering machine is easy, and leaving them is sometimes necessary to identify yourself as the caller.

It also somehow feels rude to me to just hang up without saying anything when I get no answer.

So part of this is habit and part may well be that the caller doesn't know your number is a cell phone. And, I repeat, you could say something in your message like, "No need to leave me a voicemail. I can see that you called and will call back soon. If you have an urgent message please text it. Thanks."

My answering machine and I are not on first-name basis. I'd be worried if it started referring to itself in the third person, though.

I have found voicemail to be pretty unreliable over the years. Messages can be delivered as late as 2 or 3 weeks after they were left. Not kidding. Texts sometimes come in late too, although so far I haven't had one any later than the next day.

So I still have a landline at least in part because I can have an answering machine. I can get all my messages by touching one button, and they are never days or weeks late.

"You can text me, but if you're doing so from behind the wheel of a vehicle in traffic, or while positioned at some choke point in a retail store."

That should rule out about 97% of text messages, I think.

that should have been appended with a "don't bother". That got lost in the editing.

See? I do edit, sometimes.

BY: For sure, landline v. mobile changes everything.

And, I repeat, you could say something in your message like, "No need to leave me a voicemail. I can see that you called and will call back soon. If you have an urgent message please text it. Thanks."

Yeah, I suppose. But that requires time and effort as well ;) I don't even personalize my message. This is all about preserving my laziness after all!

If you are indeed are so busy that you ordinarily cannot answer your calls, the solution is not to try to change the behavior of everyone who doesn't do what you would prefer(this is exactly what we have today in the national political arena). I suggest that you get a service that will intercept all your voicemail and transcribe those messages to your email, which can then been reviewed (by phone or computer) much more expeditiously than trying to step through a series of voicemail messages.

Also, the approach I suggested in my previous comment keeps you from telling your 'business contacts' not to leave you a voicemail, which you more or less did in your post.

I've never like talking on the phone and totally agree with the annoyance of cell phone voicemail. One of the nicest features of the iPhone is the visual voicemail. No dialing or pushing buttons all my vm are listed and I just have to touch to play them.

But yeah, I still prefer text

GOB,

I think you missed the tongue in the cheek.

Also, the approach I suggested in my previous comment keeps you from telling your 'business contacts' not to leave you a voicemail, which you more or less did in your post.

Riiiight.

If you are indeed are so busy that you ordinarily cannot answer your calls, the solution is not to try to change the behavior of everyone who doesn't do what you would prefer

No, it's just easier for me if you leave a text "call me" than it is to leave a voicemail saying "call me."

That's all. And I miss calls for any number of reasons (in a movie theater, on a subway, in an elevator) none of which have to do with my busyness or self importance.

i don't text either. i will go weeks at a time without even turning my cell phone on.

email is best. phone will do. v-mail? got no problem with vmail.

3 Observations:

(a) texting sucks
(b) texting sucks
(c) texting sucks

That is all.

As usual, cleek is the shiznit.

'No, it's just easier for me if you leave a text "call me" than it is to leave a voicemail saying "call me."'

If the message is from a 'business client', there may not be a concern regarding what is easier for you.

OOOHHH, Mr. Big Shot Eric Martin in his "movie theaters" and riding his "subways" and "elevators." Who the hell do you think you are, anyway?

Adopt a more up-to-date approach to reviewing voicemail and you can give up your annoyance toward those 'personal' contacts who clutter your voicemail.

GOB: I have no problem with cluttered vmails.

In fact, I often save them for long periods of time because my funnier friends leave some crazy sh*t in vmails.

My point is just that vmail is for one purpose, and text for another. For the short, inconsequential stuff, text works best. For the long, detailed or creative stuff, vmail is fine. Clutter it up till your heart's content.

And as for biz associates, obviously, they can do what they want. But I have a bberry for work, and clients tend to email or call me on the office line.

Well, just alienate your friends then.

And when you come back and say this doesn't apply either, I will ask you why the post.

You might want to get a google voice account. It is free and will transcribe your voice mail messages. You can have it send you the transcriptions by email or text.

GOB,

Please refer to the tongue in cheek disclaimer upthread.

But thank you for the concern.

A coworker of mine at a previous job hated voicemail but couldn't get the company to turn it off on his work line, so he changed the message to "Don't leave me a message, I never check this mailbox, I will never call you back."

People still left him messages.

Anyway, Eric is expressing a definite generational divide. I hate & fear the phone, associate a ringing phone with imminent distress, and my response to voicemail is to call the person back, not to listen to the message. I'm not a heavy texter - especially since I recently switched from a phone with a qwerty keyboard to a touchscreen phone - hate the touchscreen, but Google was handing them out at the IO conf last year and my old phone was showing its age - but I'd much rather get a text message than a voicemail.

I prefer email all around, especially now that I have the filters well-tuned on my Gmail account. That took a period of a couple of months where I religiously unsubscribed to everything I could unsubscribe to and set up filters for all the unstoppable mailing lists. Highly recommended if you feel like your email has gotten to be out of control - the "Filter messages like this" button in Gmail is especially useful.

We still have a conventional (copper pair) landline at home though, with a line-powered touch-tone handset. That way even during a power outage and even if the cell network is down or clogged, you can still make emergency calls. The people who get rid of their landlines make me nervous - what happens when you need to call 911 and the battery is dead in your cellphone?

what happens when you need to call 911 and the battery is dead in your cellphone?

they send the horse for the bucket brigade

JD:

I have been sans said safety net for a few years, and its not a problem.

Between my phone, the wife's and the many neighbors (shoot, my son will prolly have one in a couple of month's), I ain't scurrred.

You go out and start up your car, plug in your cell phone charger, and make the call.

That, or get yourself a hand-cranked cellphone.

I have one of those toe-dialed phones in case my fingers fall off while the power is out, my cell battery is dead, the network is clogged, my car battery is dead, and after the crank fell off my crack phone (which I'd have to crank with my mouth, anyway, being sans fingers). It's a real life saver.

a hand-cranked cellphone.

I'm waiting until you can do this via touchscreen.

in case my fingers fall off while the power is out, my cell battery is dead, the network is clogged, my car battery is dead, and after the crank fell off my crank phone

I hate when that happens.

I'm waiting until you can do this via touchscreen

keyboard besplattered

I hate the cell phone and only use it when forced, which is while I'm working. I still instruct everyone to email me and never call me. But, as others have remarked, a lot of folks just don't hear that.

I work as a contractor for several organizations that know my email address and even use it now and then. Yet, in spite of me telling these people again and again not to call me, they appear not able to grasp the concept that I'm serious. I've even had them call, looked at caller ID, and then promptly emailed them back reminding them never to call me. Yet they do. Somehow they think I'm kidding, or something.

You know what else I hate? Blog comments.

I mean, why won't you people quit bothering us?

Jacob Davies, re. this:

A coworker of mine at a previous job hated voicemail but couldn't get the company to turn it off on his work line, so he changed the message to "Don't leave me a message, I never check this mailbox, I will never call you back."

People still left him messages.

The bank I used to work for, fortunately, provided us with phones that had an option to block voicemail, because I had a coworker who could not comprehend that I was working part-time, and who would blithely forward urgent messages only to me if I forgot to block my vmail. And when people called me directly, somehow the message "I will not be in the office until [three days from now]" just did not register. Then they would leave repeated messages wanting to know why I wasn't calling back.

Another reason why I hate voicemail!

I'll probably give up the land line in a few years. Not there yet, though...

Adopt a more up-to-date approach to reviewing voicemail and you can give up your annoyance toward those 'personal' contacts who clutter your voicemail.

In other words, Eric should change his behavior to what you would prefer it to be. Ain't you normally agin' that sort of thing?

I gave up my land line years ago and don't miss it at all. I get cable internet and satellite TV, so I'm in pretty good shape.

As far as voicemail, if work colleagues and other contacts leave VMs saying "Call me," that's fine. I would prefer a more detailed message, but whatever. But with family, it drives me nuts, particularly because I have elderly relatives with health problems. If a family member just leaves a message saying, "Call me," I have to assume it's an emergency. But if it was important enough to call and talk to my voicemail, at least leave a little more info! Call me about grandma, call me about mom's birthday, call me just to chat . . . something, please.

I do text with a few office friends, and with my wife -- we can't always call each other at work, so it's an easy way to say "Stop for milk after work" or "I'm going out for a few drinks" or things like that. We're both 40, so I don't know where that falls on the "generational divide" scale. My nephews and niece, OTOH, are texting nearly constantly, all day long.

We're both 40, so I don't know where that falls on the "generational divide" scale.

I'm 41, and I'd say we're in the transitional area where there is a wide range of behavior, with significant percentages of people texting a whole lot, like they're 20, and others not at all, like they're 70. The texting bell curve for those within some number of years of 40 is wider and flatter than for those outside that range.

My new solution is to use Google Voice and have it send me transcribed vm in email (or text). Big fun to be had in trying to decipher what the transcriber-bot means though, you sort of have to run it through your head phonetically and see if it makes any more sense.

For many years now I've had a Jack Bauer-inspired answering machine message: "You've reached the number you dialed." *beep*

Dramatically cuts down on the trivial messages when people can't be quite sure if they've reached the right number. Anyone who actually needs to reach me urgently knows how to.

WRT texting, I am admittedly starting to drift into the "get off my lawn" attitude towards instant communication. I'm invisible on IM anytime I'm not at work, I'm very good at typing on my iPhone but tend not to hold lengthy conversations anyway, and while I love the /idea/ of all this open-society geolocation stuff, in practice I'm protective of my privacy and tend to disable anything that tells the world where I go, what I do, and when.

You've reached the number you dialed.

Oh, that's wonderful. The first rule of Tautology Club is the first rule of Tautology Club.

Definitely a generational thing, though I'm with E-Mart on this one. I used to work for a company which had this policy: A face-to-face conversation is ALWAYS better than a phone call, which is ALWAYS better than a voice mail, which is ALWAYS better than an e-mail. (This was before texting was prevalent.)

Needless to say, I disagree with that now, and did even back then.

For those saying we should put an outbound message saying "Don't leave a message, I NEVER check messages." That DOES NOT WORK.
I don't know why people have a notch in their hearing when it comes to those words, but they do. If you don't check messages, disabling your voicemail is the only solution. I've discovered this is an strangely difficult concept to communicate to most mobile phone customer service reps, but if you persist, they will eventually comply by forwarding you to a level 2 tech.

I haven't (and won't) set up my work voicemail. People (especially my parents) say "what if the boss calls you and it's urgent?" Well, if it's URGENT, he should probably not leave his message where I won't hear it, right? I am VERY liberal with my google voice number; it rings my cell, my desk and my home based on the time of day, and on failure, transcribes the voice mail for me (badly, but well enough, and improving every day).

We have IP phones, so if we had a universal inbox, I'd set up the office VM to use it. But until we do, forget it. If I don't set it up, they can't leave a message I won't hear.

I still instruct everyone to email me and never call me.

This.

I'm a 57-year-old computer engineer.
In my business, only sales droids use the phone, and anything important is done via email, in which technical information, code snippets, etc. can be communicated accurately. So, contra GOB, most of my colleagues and business associates actively avoid phone communication, and preferentially use email.

There's also the privacy aspect; in an open floor plan of cubicles, all your neighbors are privy to everything you say on the phone; email can be handled much more discreetly.

IMHO, the phone should be reserved for things that should be done face-to-face, when face-to-face is impossible: someone's died or gravely ill, breaking up a relationship, you're fired, etc. -- events of such gravity that I want to be interrupted, no matter what I'm doing, to get the information _now_, or of such personal import that communication via email would be rude.

When I get a phone call or voicemail, I assume one of those things have happened.

email, with its enormous advantages of asynchronous delivery, an automatic searchable written record of what was said and what was replied, the ability to edit, interlined responses, and archival storage under my control, is my friend.

Besides, I can read about a thousand times faster than you can talk. There's nothing more tedious than the minutes spent listening to a voicemail left by some scatterbrain who can't get to the point, and doesn't know how to end a call.

I send and view email in raw flat ASCII, with all header fields displayed, As God Intended When He Wrote The RFC, damnit.

I don't do text, chat, instant messages, "talk". Period. If it's not important enough for email, don't waste my time.

I have few friends.

I vastly prefer texting to voice mail. And moderately prefer email to voice mail. But I have a bunch of friends who say that I have to leave a voice mail if I want to get in touch with them--email won't work at all.

You sort of have to work with people. ;)

Especially the part about the voicemail. The worst possible abuse of communication technology is when someone leaves you a voicemail and says some variation of either: (1) "Hi, just calling to say hello"; or (2) "Call me."

Not nearly so bad as when someone leaves a long rambling message that's 80% useless and 20% stuff that needs to be read before it's comprehensible. He's both wasted my time and turned me into his secretary.

Joel: beautiful! Especially the crescendo of 3 punchlines at the end.

You remind me of a passage in "Claudius the God", sequel to that masterpiece of historical fiction "I, Claudius". Once he becomes Emperor, Claudius undertakes various reforms of the Imperial government. One of those is to require that everything be done in writing. The dominant sound in government offices becomes the scratching of quills.

I read that novel before e-mail was invented, but I have often wondered recently whether our government would not run better if we had Claudius back again, and e-mail to boot. Imagine we parked our Congressmen and Senators in cubicles in their own districts, with e-mail their only means of communication. Anything one of them wants to say to another, or to a constituent, or to a lobbyist, or to a reporter, or vice versa, has to be by e-mail. Committee hearings, floor speeches, even private conversations (a.k.a. backroom deals) would be in ASCII. If I had my way, it would all be publicly accessible, but I will settle for archived. Old Claudius, at least, might have approved.

--TP

And why is it people can't THINK of what it is they want to say when leaving a voicemail? You called about something, right? Important, I hope? So why must you meander around for thirty seconds of UMMs and LIKEs and (it never fails) end with "justcalmesevsethretounfivsxohohtuh" in 80 microseconds?

I looked, but there was none there, so I created a group on Facebook, Voicemail Haters of America.

You're welcome.

Texting not only sucks, it is a massive scam. Send me an email, call me, leave me a voicemail message (visual voicemail makes this oh so much more palatable). But don't text me. It costs me $.20 every time you do because, as I said, SMS is a massive scam, particularly in the U.S. where carriers get to charge you for incoming texts.

I can't imagine texting. I can't see those tiny little devices, let alone use one.

I never turn my cell phone on except to call and then only under extreme circumstanes. I don't know if I have voicemail on my phone. No one calls me. I don't give out my number. I don't know what my cell phone number is,actually.

I have a landline with a message machine.

There! I'm the biggest Luddite on the thread!

Texting not only sucks, it is a massive scam.

Oh yeah. It's pretty much essential to have an unlimited text plan if you use it at all.

To be fair, though I'm not sure why the carriers deserve it given the way they treat you, text messages and raw data are fractionally different. Text messages are synchronously delivered to the handset, whereas data services are handset-initiated through polling. The difference is not significant enough to make up for the difference in cost, though. The reason they charge through the nose for metered text messages is that, well, they can. All the carriers jacked their rates to 20c/message a while back and the FCC didn't even blink.

Eric,

Get this thing that sends your voice mails as an mp3 to your e-mail. You won't mind voice mail again, and you might even start to like it. Trust in me.

Joel said it so much more entertainingly than I could have. :)

I'm 60. I've resisted every new communications technology as it came along and given in to all of them by this time, except texting.

When I finally got an answering machine, I realized that it freed me not to have to answer the phone. I love that. People misuse the capability all the time, as has been amply pointed out above, and I hate that political and (occasionally, even though I'm on every do not call list in the universe, and they do work pretty well) sales robo-calls leave messages on my machine. That's going a step too far, and I wish it could be entirely banned. If there were anyone else to vote for, I would stop voting for the Dems to punish them for the robo-call answering machine messages.

Other than that, since I'm too cheap to pay for caller ID on my landline, I don't mind if people leave reasonable messages on my machine.

I'm too old-fashioned to get rid of my land line. What if there's any emergency? What if there's an 11-day power outage (as in the ice storm of 1998) and I can't charge my cell phone? Not to mention that I get my internet access through DSL.

I don't text. I love email....

I ditched my landline years ago after getting fed up with sales calls. I'd be trying to concentrate on something and complete strangers would call me to waste my time, interrupting my concentration. It enraged me. It was like getting spam, but more intrusive, and more degrading. Now, I only get enraged when I have to unsubscribe from postal spam. But that's less irritating.

I mean, why won't you people quit bothering us?

We're evil. Hadn't you noticed?

But joel wins the thread.

What I hate is people using the phone because they are too lazy to walk 10 m down the hall.
But even that can be topped. People calling in order to ask whether the printer has processed their order because my office is closer to the room with the printer than theirs (all rooms on the same floor).
I have a cellphone in my bag. It's always switched off and only used to make calls (about once every two months). Originally acquired for emergency calls it's very occasionally used to make appointments that are not work related but have to be made during work hours (office phone for work related use only).

What I hate is people using the phone because they are too lazy to walk 10 m down the hall.

What I hate is people phoning me from 10m down the hall when they could just as easily e-mail me.

Proposed, seconded and supported: "joel wins the thread."

Congratulations, Joel Hanes. please call to collect your prize.

First abolish phone calls, then face-to-face conversations, then human interaction, then humans. But what will be done with the money made from the extra fees for text messages or higher cost of bulk texting?

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