WeChat Voice Messages – Literally Worse Than Hitler
Social media has transformed our lives. Now it's easier than it's ever been to share videos of cats falling over, get into uncharacteristically aggressive arguments with complete strangers, and spread demented conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton causing autism by emailing pizza to pregnant women. Truly we live in a golden age of time wasting, procrastination, and general idiocy.
And in WeChat, we have China's soft power secret weapon, a mighty titan of an app which laughs in the face of Instagram, widdles on Whatsapp, snatches Facebook's favorite teddy bear and refuses to give it back. WeChat organizes our social lives, pays for our meals, it rolls up our socks in pairs and puts them away in the sock drawer.
Yet there is a slithering serpent in this virtual paradise, a weevil in our metaphorical cornflakes. I'm talking about the moment when you hear the joyous “bimbombim” sound, and snatch up your phone to see what hilarious sticker or invitation to a hip party is about to pop up. But instead, there is a barren speech bubble containing just three little lines.
Yes, I'm talking about voice messages. And I think we can all agree that people who send voice messages are literally worse than Hitler. After all, Hitler didn't send voice messages to his own people, did he?
With voice messages, there's always a second message underlying your interlocutor's barely audible mumbling. And that message is “My time is too important for me to bother spending a minute prodding at a screen to communicate in a manner convenient for you. Your time, on the other hand, is not important at all, so you won't mind stopping what you're doing, finding somewhere quiet and away from other people, turning up your phone to maximum, and playing my words over and over again until you can make out what I'm saying.”
Amid the perpetual background hubbub of Beijing, the voice message is an act of aggression, sand in your aural bed, fingernails down your spiritual chalkboard. I intend to fight back against this scourge, and I encourage you to do likewise. My weapon of choice is this app – because there's nothing funnier than the human voice pitch-shifted and speeded up. From now on, anyone sending me a voice message will receive a reply which sounds like a kitten possessed by a demon howling into a storm, to the accompaniment of a generic hip-hop backing. Each increasingly desperate request for clarification will be met with a more distorted response, until the messages sound like excerpts from Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music.
Of course, some might say that this will simply result in everybody bellowing at each other incoherently, like brontosauruses calling across a primeval swamp. But given the nature of most WeChat communication, this would probably be a distinct improvement.