scared of the telephone

I used to be one of those teenagers who was constantly reprimanded for spending too much time on the telephone. At one point, my parents seriously considered getting me my own number and having me pay for it. (This was the Eighties!) When I was physically with my friends and didn`t need to phone them, we phoned other people, playing pranks. I used to do telephone marketing in foreign languages, and then, of course, I moved to another country and relied on the telephone to keep contact with my family.

Then email arrived and slowly but surely replaced the telephone. I found it less intrusive. Sometimes, I would spend an hour emailing back and forward with my sister, surfing other websites while doing so and munching away without her complaining about the noise. Then came messenger, and then facebook, and phone calls became less and less. Someone once said he didn`t like facebook because it dilutes personal contact by seemingly replacing it. Although I kind of agreed, I didn`t take the warning.

Last year, I was organising my own big birthday party. I never usually celebrate my birthday, but this was a big one, so everyone was invited via facebook. Unless they worked with me, in which case they received a group email.

And then people started to phone me about it and asked for me to phone them back when I wasn`t in. And I was scared. I dialed their numbers willing them not to be in, so I could leave a voicemail, which would then prompt them to leave a message on facebook. Although both were relatives, we never phoned each other, and we hardly saw each other either. It wasn`t necessary. We were all on facebook. I was surprised myself at how stressful I found the prospect of phoning them now; and how relieved when both conversations “went well”.

A few months ago, something happened at work. My colleague texted me on a Sunday before I came back from holiday, and I just couldn`t wait to speak to him, so I asked for permission to call. It felt weird talking to him actually two good colleagues from my own living room, as if we crossed a boundary. We drank from the same cup and spoke about our periods, but we never ever phoned each other outside work or work related nights out.

I wonder how I could allow this to happen. Being scared to telephone people I`m related and close to. And I honestly think social media has done this. If it wasn`t for facebook I would have seen or phoned those two relatives more often. If it wasn`t for texting, we would all phone each other to arrange nights out and would feel less awkward doing so on occasions when texts won`t do. And if we didn`t have email, I`d have those hour long phone conversations with my friends at home much more spontaneously and rather than schedule them just because we can. Phoning feels intrusive now, but it never used to. Smartphones meant to bring us closer together, but I really wonder whether they made us grow further apart instead.

I have one friend who always phones me rather than text or email, and she`s a self confessed technophobe. I sometimes phone her, too, just to prove to myself that I`m still brave enough to do so.

I wonder who`s still visiting friends and family without calling ahead? We don`t. But we used to all the time.



4 thoughts on “scared of the telephone

  1. felicitastraeumer says:

    Funny. I’m “afraid” of calling strangers. I absolutely hate talking about something important with someone I don’t know. And here I am, working in a pub, taking all the calls and doing “a great job”. I’d much rather e-mail everyone…

    Same when I meet someone new. I simply cannot bring myself to call them first. I always text or e-mail them. They have to take the first step. Still, once this is taken, I’m fine to call them.

    Reading your post, I’m oddly glad that I’m not alone :D.

    Liked by 1 person

    • culbia says:

      Yeah, me too😄if the other calls first the ice is broken. I wouldn’t often ask for someone’s mobile no either or request them on Facebook (but if they give me it I can text or pn) Fear of rejection? I’m not sure myself…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wendy says:

    Oh – let me think about it. I like email a lot – because it makes it easy to stay connected with friends living in another timezone. I have a close friend at the westcoast ot the US and another at New Zealand – and both have family – so finding a “time slot” for a nice telephone conversation ist difficult. So email is it.
    I really like “hang outs” (I am not a big “what´s app” fan – because until today I am the one forgetting my smartphone, forgetting to load the battery and so on – and I am able to check “hang outs” from my desk top computer). But I use just with 5 or 6 people – mostly to organize where and what to cook on our friday cookout. Seems like I am not the typical user.

    I am at the telephone the whole day – sometimes it is really ringing every 10 seconds. So – of course – sometimes I am more than happy at home, if there is no need to speak to anyone.

    But if I want to know something, of course my first choice is to phone to them. If I call them, I have an immediate answer. Or “socialize” while chatting….

    If I just need anything not important – I send an email. So I do not disturb them.

    On rare occasions I visit someone without a call in advance. Of course I call, just to ensure they are at home. Because my friends and family have an active live and chances they are outside the home are very high.


    • culbia says:

      Me roughly the same. This started when my friend in Germany had her son (now 12). Every time I phoned, I was interrupting, so I started to PN her on facebook, and she`d PN me back when her baby was asleep, and then I`d phone. That worked.

      I like whatsapp because you can use it on PC and phone, like Hangouts, but many of my friends have Iphones and would actually prefer facetime. Whatsapp is a compromise that doesn`t care what phone you`ve got and whether you are on facebook (before whatsapp, we used facebook messenger), so that`s what established itself with me anyway.

      I can chat on whatsapp all night while doing other things on the net, and if someone has to walk away for half an hour to attend to dinner or her kids, that`s ok.

      I also use it for a quick question that doesn`t need an immediate answer. Yesterday, I texted someone a question while she was visiting someone else, and she replied to me while I was at work. That was actually quicker than phoning which would have had to wait till… tonight, actually.


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