Debate: Voicemail

By Jake and Glenn

“Ring ring!” or “♪ ♫ ♬ Let’s get down in the club, gonna fuck you on the dance floor ♪ ♫ ♬” - no matter your ringtone, we all feel the same paralysis when our phones ring and we can’t/won’t answer.  Will the caller leave a message?  Or imagine yourself on the other end, calling to tell your father, finally, that you’re gay.  He doesn’t answer because his fat fingers can’t figure out how to press the right button.  Do you leave a voicemail confessing your sin or wait for him to call back?  These are all questions we deal with on a daily basis and in today’s debate Jake and Glenn debate the role of voicemail in our increasingly meaningful lives.

Jake:  As a recovering heroin addict, I stand firmly against voicemail.  Receiving a voicemail is an act of aggression by the messenger.  There is very little in this terrible existence as unfathomably annoying as having to log into your voicemail to check your messages.  The only thing worse than that is having the notification on your phone that you have a message.  I would rather get an alert every hour to tell me that I am still HIV positive from sharing needles than receive one for a voicemail.  I know they tell you not to shoot the messenger, but in this case I would love to.  

Glenn:  As a current heroin addict, I stand firmly in favor of voicemail.  Receiving a voicemail certainly can be an act of aggression but so is forcefully consensual sex or certain times of domineering.  These are good things and good ways to make extra money to fund a thriving heroin addiction.  What would you have a caller do when you are too busy playing Badlands 2 to answer the phone?  Sit there, and redial your number over and over until you answer or die of a tumor from the cell phone?  That hardly seems like a better option than the simple act of checking your voicemail after doing a line of cocaine your used your trust fund money to buy.

Jake: Why is it so hard for a person to text you a message instead of leaving you a voicemail?  Even that can be somewhat annoying, really, since you will get an alert that you missed their phone call on your cellular telephone screen.  Voicemail, much like “Family Circus” and osteoporosis, is for the elderly.  I am enraged when somebody leaves me a voicemail.  A young person, that is.  My dad doesn’t even know how to use a computer, so I can hardly fault him for leaving a voicemail on my phone.  If my wife leaves me a voicemail, I will put glass in her food.

Glenn:  Just because the elderly use something doesn’t mean it’s only for them and just because they use it doesn’t mean it’s bad.  I can list several things the elderly do that we all enjoy: watching TV, having very rough but consensual intercourse and staring out the window while waiting for death.  Elderly people in my experience love voicemail because it’s the only way they know for sure the message was left.  Sure we can text our friends saying “just joined the army, shipping out in a week, ttys” but who knows where that text goes?  With a voicemail, our loved ones can hear that haunting message spoken in our own voice, and wonder how things ever went so wrong.  

Jake: The elderly are not trendsetters, and the only trend I can get behind when it comes to the elderly is death panels.  Getting a voicemail is like getting a notification in your email from Linkedin.  It will ruin your entire week.  It’s like a ghost reaching out from the past to turn your waking life into a farcical nightmare.  Sure, we could sit here and debate ghosts and Linkedin for weeks, but what’s the point.  I can’t get a hold of Glenn to finish the debate and refuse to leave a voicemail telling him to come back to the internet and write his last point.  I have texted him 7 times and even sent him a fax, but he will not respond.

Glenn:  I got your texts but I’m busy trying to help my parents figure out their voicemail password.  Let’s not frame this debate as voicemail vs. text because no one under the age of 45 can argue with a straight, sagging face that voicemail is better.  I would instead ask our readers to view this as whether it is right to leave a voicemail if someone doesn’t answer your phone call.  Wouldn’t you want a voicemail?  You can listen to it and decide if a return call is warranted.  Some might accuse me of being sentimentally biased towards voicemail because that is the way I found out I won the lottery last night.  But even sitting in the new mansion I will build with 100 feet tall fence to keep poor people out, this affinity for VM won’t change.  In fact, that will probably be the method I use to fire my first housekeeper for making eye contact with me! 


  1. I love voice mail and text messaging a lot - almost as much as I hate Glenn and Jake for using inappropriate slurs to describe my failing body via voice mail and text messages.

    They're the only people I've ever spoken to so it's a mixed bag.

  2. Voicemail and texts, like all things that preserve traces of the past, trigger my hoarding instincts.

    I preserve texts from friends to be able to instantly cue up the trees of synaptic associations that their memories have sprouted. When I receive texts now I have to delete them immediately in order to receive more texts, or if they are worthy of preservation I must erase a competing memory from the in-box to free up the space. Reading a saved text, I transport vividly back to the exact time & place that I read it - the surroundings, the emotions, the smells, the picture I drew of the person sending the text at the time, the taste of the air and the sounds of the traffic, the near constant anxiety that registers as the gentle weight of a jackboot on my belly ready at any minute to crush what's underneath, these are all evoked. Texts function as bullet-trains through my misremembered past to the clear instances where friendly affection or another sort of peculiar attention was communicated to me by a person I love.

    Voicemail has an even stronger capacity for flipping electro-chemical switches in my brain, which is why my voicemail box is full, except for room for an incoming message, with the voicemails from my daughter from age 4 until now, age 7. I have at my command access to dozens of 3-30 second bursts of pure joy and love. When listening to those messages I am the happiest I am capable of being while not being with her. It's incredibly powerful stuff. Leaving a message wins.

  3. we can easily, like for less than $30, get you a better dumb phone where you don't have to delete ANYTHING.


no more comments from spam bots. fuck off.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.