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One ringy dingy

Telephones. Love ’em or hate ’em. At various times in my life, I’ve done both. As a teen, starting with something like the black 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.

The beast at work looked something like this

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.

Freedom! Privacy! 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.)

8 Comments »

  1. I hate to use the phone… much prefer a quick text. I’m introverted but I don’t think that’s completely why I avoid phone calls. I find that people who love to talk on the phone just take up too much of my time (often repeating themselves). I’d much rather get to the heart of the matter (dinner plans, walk date, question, etc.) and get off (or, even better, send me a text). I have too many other things to do. I’ve started to call my iPhone my camera since I seldom use the phone function. I have no interest in overcoming my “aversion.” 🙂

    • One of the things the article mentioned was that phone calls take up too much time. Just like you said. All the niceties before and after the matter at hand. Just about the only calls I make are to make appointments with doctors or businesses. That usually requires some sort of explanation, details, etc., but certainly no social chit chat. And I love texting — sent at my convenience, read by recipient at their convenience. Lots of other stuff can be handled online or via email.

  2. I use my smart phone for its camera, rarely have it switched on but I have used the internet alot. It’s great for checking up on things and addresses for sat navs. I grew up without a phone and don’t see the necessity of constantly calling people just because you can. My wife and kids are always on them. Now the UK Government are trying to get us to use them to go to the pub or the restaurant or the cinema or basically anywhere. To show your Covid-19 vaccine status, it will be mandatory in the Autumn according to the Government. How is your Covid-19 status over there?

    • Mine, personally, is great. Fully vaccinated, and my family too. Nationally, still not great. There’s a diehard faction of far right people who think vaccinations are a political plot, a hoax, or unconstitutional. My card is on my phone and in my wallet and I always have a mask with me. Great national confusion about “if you’re fully vaccinated, you needn’t wear a mask” vs those who’ve never worn masks, refuse to wear them, and also refuse to get vaccinated. Sadly, you can’t cure stupid.

  3. I don’t like talking on the phone either. I suppose I classify myself as an introvert. Not bit on gatherings and functions. I was when I was younger. But today, I just find most people annoying. Especially women. I’ve always gotten along better with men. When it comes to phones, I don’t like talking on the phone. There are just a few people I don’t mind talking to, but it’s a rare occurrence. I think the main reason I prefer texting to talking is the ability to think about my reply more carefully. I’m not on the spot to respond immediately. I know I have to be careful on how I word responses as texting just doesn’t have the tone of one’s voice so some things can be taken the wrong way. I love my smart phone, for more than one reason, and so glad this tech came along in my lifetime.

Now that I've had my say ...

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