Is Telephobia Really A Thing?

It's no secret that people are talking on the phone less. We're texting, we're emailing, we're Gchatting, we're Facebooking. There have been many articles bemoaning the death of the phone call in recent months, and Nielsen said in a December report that voice calls have dropped by 12 per cent since 2009, while text messaging has absolutely blown up.

With no dearth of mediums on which to communicate, our attentions are divided. But is it possible that we've developed an actual fear of talking on the phone?

Salon's Sarah Hepola argues that this so-called Telephobia is a very real thing.

It's just plain scary to talk to other people. We avoid it not because people don't matter — but because they do. And each of us brings emotional baggage to to these interactions. when my phone rings, and I don't recognise that number — forget it. I'm too scarred by the years I spent dodging credit card companies to take that kind of dare. I also don't jump off cliffs, or do cartwheels on the highway. In fact, it's amazing to me that there was a time when the phone rang, and someone just answered it. Who could it be? Could it be the guy who was currently making your heart pound? Oooh, let's pick it up and find out! Now, when I see an unfamiliar number, I feel nothing but outrage.

A good portion of that is, in fact, crazy talk. But I'll be the first to admit that I'm a chronic call screener. (Sorry, mum.) We are constantly inundated with information about other people. Pictures from their holidays, posts about their ailing grandmothers, rants about their horrible bosses. Sometimes you just want to flip off the noise. Are we over-saturated? Yes. But are we actually so scared of human contact that we can't stomach a phone call? No. And if you are, please seek help immediately, because you might have some serious psychological issues going on.

My friends and family are dispersed across the US — Nieces in Atlanta, parents in Dallas, friends in Madison, San Francisco and Chicago. If I don't talk to these people regularly, I will feel completely cut off from their lives. You can't hear the difference in a friend's voice, raising that red flag that something might be wrong, through a flippant status update. Facebook gives you a false sense of connection. It makes you feel like you know what is going on with someone, when in reality, the social media version is a carefully-crafted, contrived version of their persona. It's fake. But keeping up with someone through regular, real contact? Now that takes actual effort.

Telephobia is hogwash. The truth is, it's an excuse for the fact that communicating has gotten easier, and a by-product of that is we've gotten lazier. [via Slate]

Image: auremar/Shutterstock


Comments

    Due to the term "hogwash" not sure if the article is saying fear of talking on the phone is real or not.

    It is real for some people, and not just young'uns who have only ever texted or IM'd so can't do a voice to voice thing. My 70yo mother in law has it. When visiting, upon production of a bunch of cash and the request for her to order pizzas (as we are not from the area which is a small country town), the response was "Oh no I couldn't do that". And forget about answering the phone, to check she is okay some has to send a message via a facebook farmville thingo.

    I on the other hand, being a 38yo young'un enjoy answering the phone no matter who it is because I work for one of those credit card companies that are harassing people so know how to have a normal conversation.

    I dont think its a problem. Its just that texting is far more convinient. You cant really sit in a office and talk to a friend yet you can easily send a quick text.

    Often people dont always carry their phone, a text can be read at anytime rather than playing phoneball tennis trying to get hold of anyone

      I find text-tag far more frustrating than getting the call done.

    It actually does exist for people with anxiety disorders and alike.

    I have Aspergers Syndrome and have always disliked using phones and webcams. Being able to text and email are an absolute godsend to me...my smartphone is my most prized possession :)

    I don't like answering the phone or calling people. With email, SMS and facebook, I have time to consider my responses. With face to face, I have more cues to how people are reacting. With the phone, I just can't bring myself to dial. Its all the what-ifs of, what if I sound stupid, what if they'll hate me.... I really don't know where it stems from and it makes my work quite difficult. I used to be this way with face to face, but being a researcher, I've had to get over that because of all the face to face consultations I've had to do.

    Wouldn't call it a phobia, but I definately hate talking on the phone. I'm much cleared when I can write it out, so if I can, I'll always text/email/etc over a call

    I've always hated talking on the phone, but I used to call it phonophobia :S

    As a previous poster stated, when you're there in person, you can check their body language, you can demonstrate friendly body language.... it's a lot easier to communicate - I thought I read somewhere that 80% of communication is non-verbal. (I might also have made this up though... but I remember it was a really high number)
    If I order a pizza, it's either done online or through an app, but before those days (heh, I'm only 27 but remember the days before apps :) I'd go in, order, and wait, rather than calling beforehand.
    To make an appointment somewhere, I go into the place and make the appointment in person. I think the receptionist is usually a bit confused as to why I made the effort to come in, in person, when I could've just called, but for me, it's much LESS of an issue doing it this way.

    If I get a call, my heart beats faster and I get nervous, which is a self fulfilling prophecy anyway.... so if I do answer (only numbers I know), even then I'm tongue tied and a bumbling idiot.

    For me to actually MAKE a call...... it has to be the ONLY way of going about doing something. I'd try to find an email or other form of communication, but a lot of the times it's the only way. I write out a script of what I'm going to say, with possible answers to possible questions that might occur. Then I stare at it (for hours usually) and my nerves go crazy.

    So for me it feels like a real thing, that does exist. It has nothing to do with emails or texts or facebook. It's just these things have made it much easier for me to communicate now.

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