I don’t believe there is such a thing as “sudden-onset” telephonophobia, but it happens slowly over time, and it happened to me. (Actually, I thought I was just making this up, but I found an interesting little article covering the irrational fear of phone use- can’t tell if this is a real thing or not, but it proves others are curious about it) You see, over time I have grown and nurtured an aversion to traditional telephone use. I cannot pinpoint when it happened, but I went from being a lover of phones to an avoider of phones. The irony is that in today’s world, at least here in the US, many of us are dependent upon our phones, but not for their traditional use of simply speaking to someone…unless maybe we could find an app to do that for us.
Back in the day I could talk on a phone until both ears hurt. I’d stretch the phone cord as far as I could in order to get comfortable and settle in for a long conversation. These were even the days before caller ID. If the phone rang, you answered it; you didn’t even think about it. Now if my phone rings, which fortunately it does not often do, I look first to see who is calling, and if I see the dreaded “unknown caller,” I refuse to answer, as if the person can somehow hurt me through the phone. If that stranger thinks he of she has business with me, a voicemail message must be left. I will screen it and decide if I deem the caller worthy or not. I think this all stems from telemarketers. There came a time when the only calls that ever came to our home phone were from people trying to sell kitchen knives, weight-loss miracle drugs, or magazine subscriptions. We got rid of the home phone.
Sadly, I am ecstatic that I finally memorized my husband’s cell number. He’s had that particular number for over three years now, and I just got to where I know I can dial it from memory if my phone should ever happen to die or get lost. I used to have all my friends’ numbers memorized because I actually had to physically dial them and I could visually see the numbers on a key pad. Now there are any number of ways, depending on how smart our smart phones really are, that we can dial people, but it rarely involves punching any numbers into the keypad.
But these days, I want some freedom, so I text. Other than driving (NEVER text and drive!), so much can be done and multi-tasked while texting, that I cannot imagine all the time I wasted in my youth concentrating solely on a phone conversation.
All this came to mind because I was recently thinking about an old friend, my oldest friendship actually- the one I used to talk to for hours at a time- and I decided we needed to reconnect…on the phone. Because I dislike phones so much, it is hard to get past that even when it’s for a dear friend. I tend to make all sorts of excuses in my mind to not make a phone call. It’s ridiculous really. So, to hold myself to it, I scheduled a day and time (an appointment) to call her, figuring I’d be more likely to hold myself to it if I wrote it on my calendar. It worked too. I called her at our agreed upon time and we spoke for well over an hour, just like old times, and it was wonderful! I might even work up the nerve to do it again sometime.
A totally non-related moment here, but when I was trying to find out if phone phobia was a real thing, I came across this little bit of irony, and I love irony: “Sesquipedalophobia” is the fear of long words.