Things I Hate: Telephones

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?

Go Phone
I should set the ring tone to the Jaws theme because these things scare me more than giant great white sharks.

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.

Cue tense music.

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!


23 thoughts on “Things I Hate: Telephones

  1. HATE HATE HATE talking on the phone. People I talk to on the phone: my parents. My nephew, if he’s up for it (he’s three.) People I don’t: everyone else. I text them, I FB/tweet them, but HATE talking on the phone. I’m all awkward pauses and weird out-of-place giggles and it’s like water torture for me.

    I never used to hate it so much. In college I was on the phone CONSTANTLY. Weird thing that has come about as I grew up, I guess.

    1. I wonder if it’s the availability of other methods of communication that gradually gave us our aversions to using the phone. Some clever scientist should do a study.

  2. I used to talk on the phone ALL THE TIME, I had one friend that I’d spend at least an hour with on the phone almost every day.

    Now, I really can’t stand it and have zero interest in talking to anyone on the phone. I have to do occasional video conference calls for my freelancing gig, and that’s bad enough.

    1. One thing I hate about my job is doing video teleconferences. We usually have to coordinate time zones so we can talk to our counterparts in the continental U.S., and it really sucks, because we either have to come in early or stay really late.

  3. I have no use for talking on the telephone, which is one reason why I don’t have a cell. I get maybe 4 calls a week (if you don’t count the nightly automated calls from the school), and I make fewer than that. Smoke signals do me just fine.

  4. The phone is a nuisance to me, but I can’t say I “hate” it…although I’m getting close. The worst part of the phone for me is voicemail. I hate hate hate dialing in to voicemail only to type my password wrong and be booted back to the main screen. Ugh. We can keep telephones around for a little bit longer if we could just eliminate all answering machines & services!

  5. I’m not a big fan of speaking on the phone either. The only person I have long conversations on the phone with is my mom, but otherwise I just find it an awkward way of communicating and I get easily distracted by other things.

    I’d much rather text. I think it really comes from having my first pay-as-you-go phone (which are much cheaper in Germany than contract phones), and always being aware of how much balance I had and how much it cost to speak on the phone. Then during college, I always texted during boring classes.

    1. I used to favor texting, but I went a few years without a cell phone, and now I’m not any good at it, so it just takes forever. Now that internet access is fairly ubiquitous, I try to rely on Facebook.

  6. Wow. I can’t believe so many other people have issues with the phone. I started hating the phone when I moved out too. I detest the phone. And while cell phones do come with a lot of communication options, I hate that cell phones have created the supposition that we are supposed to be available at any moment. I have to be in “phone mode” to talk on the phone, so people get really pissed that I don’t ever answer the phone. I still abide by the pre-2000s rules: if I’m not home, I’m not available. PERIOD. Yet people actually expect me to answer the phone any and everywhere. I keep my phone on silent at all times, and I don’t check it until I get home. Grrr…

    1. I did pretty well without a cell phone for a few years, but I got one after my car broke down on the expressway in Okinawa. The thing I like is that it remembers people’s numbers. The thing I don’t like is that it’s a telephone.

  7. I’m not a fan of the phone, either, but I can’t say I’m afraid of it. There are only a handful of people that I can stand being on the phone with.

    I have three real phobias that create actual anxiety/physical responses in me: a fear of spiders, a fear of throwing up, and a total aversion to belly buttons. (I would have given their phobia names, but I was afraid of misspelling them and too lazy to look them up right now.)

    1. Belly button aversion is rather interesting. I have a friend who has a foot phobia. She won’t touch anyone else’s feet, and she won’t let anyone touch her feet. She won’t even touch her feet if she can help it. We considered it a major step for her when she went with my wife to get a pedicure a few months ago.

      1. That would be a major step (I see what you did there) for the foot phobic person. How did it go?

        I’m that way about elbows. I hate it when my elbow is touched.

  8. I’m not scared of phones but the idea that everyone has that I must always answer it for every mundane call ( usually about nothing of import) makes me want to drive over my cell phone repeatedly. My home phone has had the ringer turned off for months ( anyone I want to talk to has the cell number) and I don’t miss it one bit!! Sometimes I turn my cell phone off on weekends so that I can just get a break. Every now and then I miss the days when I was a child and we only had one phone with no answering machine.

  9. While I’m not afraid of phones, I severely get annoyed when people don’t know how to screen their calls. Just because it rings, you don’t have to pick it up! I’d rather talk to someone who wants to talk to me when they want to talk to me. I screen my calls all the time, but I do admit I rely way too much on my cell phone.

  10. I’m not afraid of phones but I sure don’t like them very much. I’m firmly in the TEXT me don’t CALL me camp. There are few people that I talk to on the phone, just a few close family members. I think it’s boring otherwise. Snore.

  11. I hate calling new people on the phone. I thought this came from like a Pavlovian response. Growing up, whenever someone called my house, my dad would yell. So I was afraid that if I called people, they would yell at me. I also think I have jumping Frenchmen of Maine disorder, so a lot of time (especially if it’s a new ring tone) a ringing phone will startle me greatly.

  12. Wow that was odd. I just wrote an incredibly long
    comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t
    show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again.
    Anyhow, just wanted to say wonderful blog!

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