Why Your VM Outgoing Message Sucks

06/03/2010

Here’s a brief history of events that led up to a huge portion of the population leaving a terrible, soul-crushing outgoing message on their voice mail. First, just when we were getting used to rotary phones, being able to zip that dial like a racehorse around the final turn, they changed the format. (pic: zen)

Enter the calculator-esque push-button phone. Or is it Satan? (ahem) See, this design got callers everywhere overconfident. Soon they were seeing if they could punch in digits even faster than the old, more controlled method of the spinning dial. This led to an increase in wrong numbers. (pic: stilo95hp)

We’re not just talking about a spike, but an all-consuming wave that flooded the lands of the telephone users. At one point I remember a 60 Minutes segment about it, people were being inundated with wrong numbers, and suffering a minor form of PSTD. But it was not a sickness without a measure of protection, and subsequently we got the answering machine.

After the masses figured out how to use them, answering machines began clogging people’s call time due to long-winded outgoing messages, usually prefaced by stating the phone number that was reached, and both household heads -and maybe the kids- would chime in too, followed by them all simultaneously instructing the caller on what to do when they hear a beep. This went on for a long, dark time. (pic: Wikimedia)

Which leads us to a present epidemic. The ghosts of the past still haunt many of us when we record our outgoing message on our cell phone. Personally, I think it should be short and to the point (which many of the offending are), and maybe just say “Hi, it’s [name].” And let that 15 second recording start that informs the caller on how to leave a voice message. But here’s the rub that I experience way too often upon being directed to someone’s voice mail. And please… please change your outgoing message if it starts like this:

“Hi, you have reached…”

No. No, I haven’t. I really needed to, but I haven’t. I knew who I was calling, but I didn’t reach you. WHY DO YOU MOCK ME?

(pic: Bloggoggles)


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