I’m Scared to Death of My Phone -- Here’s Why

Rant 11

I'm just going about my daily business, thinking vaguely of what to make for dinner and whether or not the towering stack of laundry will magically clean itself if I procrastinate long enough, when I absentmindedly pick up my phone to check something and suddenly I see it. There it is, lurking horrifically on my phone's lockscreen: a missed call message. My stomach instantly plummets to the floor, and I take a deep breath before swiping my trembling finger from left to right to see what's on the next screen. Oh please, I pray, but it's no good. Red as a drop of arterial blood flung from a killer's knife, a notification icon screams from the top of the voicemail button.

Dear God. Someone called me. I have a voicemail. And I'm probably going to have to call them back.

A whistling sort of shriek opens up inside my brain like a cold wind blowing through a pitch-black moor. My worst fear -- using my phone for PHONE CALLS -- is coming true, and there's nothing I can do to stop it. The only thing that could possibly make this situation more terrifying is if a nest of poisonous baby spiders suddenly burst out of the earpiece.

When I was younger, I could talk on the phone for hours and hours. I remember entire evenings as a phone-obsessed middle schooler, lying on my back in my bedroom and balancing the body of our rotary dial on my feet while I twirled the pig-curl electrical cord and gossiped with friends.

I'm not exactly sure when my love for the telephone transformed into a full-blown phobia, but I suspect it grew with the increasing prevalence of cellphones. Where two people once had civil, uninterrupted conversations from the relative quiet of a house or office, now people talk as they stroll down streets or drive through tunnels. Having a mobile phone means you can be contacted anywhere at any time, and so can the person you're calling. It may be convenient, but how I miss the assurance that when you rang someone up, they were actually at HOME.

The bottom line is that cellular communications are different from the old-school landlines in a thousand different ways, including weird digital delays and screwy frequencies that trigger an unending stream of unintentional interruptions so every conversation feels less like a pleasant chat and more like an awkward ham radio transmission. I mean, honestly, how often do you find yourself going, "Oh sorry, go ahead" when you're on a cellphone? ALL THE DAMN TIME THAT'S HOW OFTEN.

Take the fact that I hate the experience of talking on the phone, and add in my reliance on the phone as a mini-computer, and I've come to find myself reacting with complete shock whenever my phone has the audacity to spring into life with a ringtone. But I thought we agreed you were a CAMERA and EMAIL MACHINE, I think resentfully. WHY ARE YOU BURDENING ME WITH THIS HORRIFIC REAL-TIME RADIO LINK PROTOCOL BUSINESS?

A ringing phone is bad enough, but a missed call is the absolute worst. Because if they leave a message, I have to confront my fears and actually deliberately initiate the nightmare by calling them back. Or if I know they're going to call ME back but I don't know when, I spend my entire day staring suspiciously at my phone, dreading the Transformers-like moment when it's going to switch from a harmless device into an instrument of PURE EVIL.

In conclusion, I admit I have issues -- but for God's sake, don't call me on them. Text me.

Do you have a cellphone phobia too? Let's discuss from the relative safety of the comments section.


Image via Zazzle

cell phone, communication