There are not many things in this world that truly scare me. I can handle snakes and spiders, and I know people who are terrified of birds, but I’m definitely not one of them. Being in high places gets my adrenaline pumping; roller coasters and airplanes all give me a sense of thrill. So if I have no problem with any of these things, why is it that the telephone scares the holy crap out of me?
The fear of telephones is called telephonophobia. (I was really disappointed that it wasn’t more unpronounceable.) Most people who suffer from this phobia are afraid that they will stammer, stutter, or run out of things to say. Others are afraid that someone is listening in on their conversation. Whatever their reason for being afraid, many who suffer from this strange phobia get around it by having their family or friends make calls for them. I definitely do this; if I have any business that needs to be handled over the phone, I usually get my wife to do it for me.
I’m a little bit ashamed that I have this weird hangup with the phone (haha, get it?). I think it all started when I moved out of my parents’ house and had to start answering my own phone. Before that, I would call my friends to see if they were home, and then I would go over to their houses. I would actually call and talk to a few friends for long periods of time. But now I really hate getting on the phone.
At one point, I thought it might be because I’m shy. However, when in person, I make conversation with friends and strangers alike; I have no qualms with public speaking, presenting lectures, or even talking one-on-one in an interpersonal setting with just about anybody. I have actually gone to places and physically spoken to the friend, colleague, or agency representative I needed to deal with rather than call them. If I have to call someone on the phone, even if it’s someone I am close with, I freeze up and make excuses to put it off for as long as I can.
Fortunately, we no longer live in a culture where the phone is our main form of long-distance communication. I can contact most people I care to reach through social media. Nowadays cell phones and smart phones provide plenty of alternatives to calling someone since you can text, e-mail, or even contact them by Facebook or Twitter. On the down side, most of these methods don’t give you the guarantee of instant communication, tone of voice, or any of the other benefits of actually calling the person you need to talk to.
I’m probably not the only one afraid of the phone, and I’ll bet there are plenty of even stranger fears than that. Whatever you’ve got, tell me about it in the comments!