Telephones. Love ’em or hate ’em. At various times in my life, I’ve done both. As a teen, starting with something between the black one and the green one in the picture, I could and did easily spend hours on the phone. So did my two younger sisters. So many hours that my dad, a doctor, had to have a second line installed just for his calls. After all, an obstetrician was effectively on call 24/7.
As an adult, parent, and employee, phones were, quite simply, a necessity — one we all knew, used, and often cursed for one reason or another. The last phone I knew as an employee was one of those nifty neato beasts with multiple lines and functions and I hated it. Not only because I wasn’t fully confident about how to use all those functions (hold, forward, intercom, etc.) — because I didn’t need to — but because even though I could turn it off (hurray!), I wasn’t allowed to (dammit!). If I didn’t take my incoming calls, the girl at the front desk would have to take a message, poor dear … so there went my ability to work uninterrupted when I wanted to (which was all the time). I’m sure you’re all familiar with being deep into a complex train of thought and then being interrupted by sudden jangling at your elbow. (Yeah, and I have a terrific startle response to boot.)
I suppose that’s why, once I retired, I also retired from the hated telephone. And I kiss the earth beneath the feet of people who finally invented effective call blocking.
Still, I need to use the phone now and then and I hate it. I procrastinate like crazy. I don’t even call family; I let them call me. I never analyzed my aversion beyond “I don’t want to bother people,” or “I might inconvenience someone.” Probably because that’s the way I feel about people calling me.
Then yesterday I came across an article entitled “Psychologists explain your phone anxiety” in New York Magazine. Very enlightening. It seems there’s a lot more to my “anxiety” than just not wanting to bother anyone, although as an extreme introvert, that reason alone has always been good enough for me. Unfortunately, I can’t go into more detail now because there’s a paywall blocking my access — after reading just the one article! (I don’t recall ever reading New York Magazine before.) It made good sense, and even offered ways to overcome one’s aversion to phones … assuming you want to. If you are so inclined, I hope you’ll be able to read it.
( I was thinking my title was from a Saturday Night Live skit. Turns out it was older than SNL. It’s “Ernestine” from Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. My, my, how time flies.)