This is more an appeal to your better nature than it is anything else. Type. Use your words – by using your letters.
I speak from the point of view of someone with gentle, vulnerable ears; someone for whom tinnitus – that dreadful ringing of the ears – is more fact than fiction. If the decibels must beat my eardrums until that point of pain, I’d prefer it to be a sound I delight in – like a conversation with a loved one, or the gurgling of a steaming cup of tea as I pour it, ready for another thirsty sip.
What I would NOT like to waste the needling on is a stranger’s call, especially when a message would do; especially when they are using a chatting software like WhatsApp.
I understand stunted conversations that can feel for someone far away like a panacea; a quick way to feel the warmth of engagement. I can understand that gnawing need to be close to someone, to hear their voice, to carry on a talk reminiscent in its stuttering to days of yore where you would wait for telephone lines to get over the inevitable sound lag.
But to send a voice note to an unsuspecting person waiting for a message? That’s just plain mean. Often I find myself stumped – the speakers on my phone, like the ones in my ears, are a bit defunct; they work but there’s little voice modulation. When a call is afoot, I slither into silent corners and when a perked ear will not suffice I use headphones. When in the middle of a quick message exchange I get a voice note and I have not had the foresight to carry these earbuds, well, it can get quite embarrassing, both for the person on the other end, who can unfortunately tell I’m on the app but not the reason behind me flinching away, and for me, who must now find a way to listen without letting past a random voice flitter into other people’s spaces.
The vigilance with which people monitor if the intended audience has witnessed the note is frightening – it has all the hallmarks of stalker behaviour. Time-bound tags are enough to drive anyone insane – you know they are there, just not for you. A break-up you weren’t counting on; an irritant you cannot understand.
And perhaps talking is easier than typing for some – certainly if you are driving or otherwise engaged it may seem like the only option. At this point though, from me to you – please don’t. Unless a fire threatens your very existence, or mine. Unless your message can change the tide of war, curb world hunger and result in peace on earth – DON’T. Because if you do, the only thing you are managing is to shatter a calm you had no business interrupting in the first place. (Except if you are a loved one – then, please, just call.)