I recently came up for air after the slog of early child-rearing, working and generally trying keeping it all together, wondering why I felt more alone than ever. I have a carefully curated set of 187 friends on Facebook. My iPhone never leaves my side, allowing me to continuously check the flow of social media updates, texts and emails to organize schedules, meetings, play dates and the other compelling minutiae of life. And yet, I felt a vague but powerful longing for the satisfying emotional connections I remembered from my past – the phone calls, the letters, the long talks with friends. Was this just misplaced nostalgia for a simpler time in my life, or had the nature and quality of human interaction changed while I wasn’t paying attention?
I am a reluctant texter. I still pine for the bygone era of the Blackberry keyboard. But I’ve taken to email like a duck to water. It’s the most efficient form of communication. No more endless phone tag, no more wondering what it was you discussed in that meeting or phone call – especially when your short-term memory isn’t what it used to be. Now it’s all there in black and white, the past forever searchable, a screen ready to transmit whatever you want to say 24/7.
I realized there was also another, more insidious reason for my email addiction. It enables you to avoid dealing with the messy world of human emotions. When there’s no live human being on the receiving end, you don’t have manage any conflict in the moment. You can compose a rational response and sweep anger, disappointment and other negative feelings under the rug. Peace is kept, awkwardness and discomfort avoided. Or, you may feel empowered to freely express anger and frustration without the complication of having to to hear and reckon with someone else’s perspective and emotions.
The problem is, when you use technology to be more efficient and filter emotion out of communication, you lose the good along with the bad. When you text your friend that you have to cancel dinner because you’re sick, you lose the chance to hear her voice full of concern and love when she asks if she can bring you anything to make you feel better. In the moment, you don’t even realize that you’ve lost something, but you have. And those small losses add up over time, each missed connection with friends and family enlarging the hole that we try to fill with new technologies promising a more efficient, easier, “better” life.
So what is the answer? Do we throw our smartphones on a funeral pyre? Buy a rotary phone and tell our friends they can reach us at home between the hours of 7 and 10 p.m.? Probably not. But we can be conscious in our use of technology. Before you send a text or email, think about whether you could could communicate more and better with someone by making a phone call, meeting for coffee, or even sending a video or voice message.
I created Vochi to get people back to talking. For those times when you can’t pick up the phone to talk to your friends and family, or when you’re too far away to spend time together, you can send a video or voice message. Yes, there’s also text and photo messaging, because sometimes we need to do that too.
Vochi lets you create your messages and schedule them to arrive any time you want. Now you won’t forget to tell your dad happy birthday because even though you remembered every day for two weeks that it was coming up, you forgot on the actual day. Now you can call your best friend and tell her you just saw the perfect dress for her, without interrupting her meeting/playdate/whatever with a phone call or text. Or send yourself a reminder to do something at the exact time it needs to be done.
Finally, you can save your favorite messages in your personal cloud archive. Now you won’t wish you had saved those messages from your dad before it was too late to hear his voice again, or those messages from your kids, who grew up and don’t tell you they love you anymore – at least not in that cute little voice they used to have.
I designed Vochi to help you bring a little more joy into your life.
Download Vochi for iPhone here.