September 15, 2015

Phone Calls & Text Messages—Why I Hate Answering Them.


Phones are my nemesis. I have phone-nightmare-allergy-phobia.

Phones zap me.

I am not rude generally, although I can see that some may see it that way. I just dislike, with a passion, talking and texting on phones.

I don’t get it. To me it’s an intrusive device that, apparently, is supposed to travel everywhere with me. God forbid if it’s left behind and someone wants to talk immediately, then the caller’s inner demons are quickly cut loose. Over a missed call!

Hell hath no fury like a person whose call you’ve not taken or whose text you didn’t reply to immediately.

Relationships can break up, friendships can break down and everything else can self-destruct and be swiftly over. All because of a phone, or the lack of it.

I f*cking hate them. Detest them.

I harbour deep frustration and resentment for phones.

And yes, I know I’m partly to blame for the fury people feel when calls don’t get answered. It’s just…at times, I cannot pick up the phone. I just can’t. I try. But I look at it ringing, screaming and demanding for my urgent attention. It’s a violation. I turn it to silent and instantly feel at peace.

I find talking on the phone to be the most unnatural thing in the world. It feels forced.

I zone out, I can’t concentrate or focus and the other person speaking sounds like the calls I’ve heard on Charlie Brown cartoons—a squeaky, irritating noise.

I’ve tried to stay present, tried to lift my spirits, tried to concentrate, I’ve tried everything—nothing works. I flat line. My mind turns blank.

If I’m not feeling too great I can’t just automatically switch to positive mode when a call interrupts my thoughts. I can’t pretend to be okay when I’m not and sometimes I just want solitude to work things through.

If I choose to take a call when I’m feeling a little low, then arrives a thousand questions, “What’s wrong, is it something I’ve done,” and, “I’m worried about you…” Don’t be. Just understand I need my “me time” to figure things out. Then, I’ll procrastinate for a little while and then I’ll talk. But until then, I need the calm of my own inner dialogue.

I (usually) adore the people who are calling me. It’s not so much about who is on the call it’s more about the nuisance of technology dangling between us.

It doesn’t matter that phones have been part of my life for as far back as I can remember. It still feels so alien to talk into one. I just can’t seem to grasp the concept that the person I’m speaking to is not next to me.

I act like a puzzled puppy that hears a voice through cables and doesn’t know where the sound is coming from.

I long for real people conversation, people who are standing or sitting next to me talking with me.

I want to see the people I talk to.

I can’t see smiles or eyes light up, I can’t see whether someone is happy or crying, and I can’t feel any energy touching mine when I’m on the phone.

It all feels so fake, so strange and complicated.

Misunderstandings, misinterpretations and miscommunication, it’s a minefield.

I don’t want to talk when someone feels they should call out of routine or politeness or because they think I’ll forget them or they’ll forget me. That will never happen!

I don’t want to talk when love is far from me and only checks in to ask, “How’s your day?” or “Are you okay?” When really they are too preoccupied to hear the answer.

I don’t want to have a conversation when I’m just about to step into the bath, when I’m captivated by writing or in the middle of making love.

Calls happen, all the freaking time.

When the phone rings something alerts my mind to the possibility that I need to take the call just in case something somewhere needs my urgent attention. (It never does.)

Another bug I have to bear is when out with friends and phones are going off and those around me are too preoccupied with Facebook alerts and text messages to fully connect. I see it everywhere, parents texting while picking their children up from school, out at dinner, and people almost bumping into one another and walking into street lights on the sidewalks.

Phone insanity.

And I have no clue how to play the crazy mind games that are involved in deliberately holding out with replies to keep the other person guessing or keen. Or that pause before responding to make out that life’s being lived to the full right now so they really can’t possibly reply (when they are likely sitting alone watching TV and desperately hoping for your response as some sort of self-validation).

Also, there are the people who deliberately calculate how long it’s taken for me to reply and then double however much time it’s taken before calling or texting me back. So very clearly deliberate behaviour—passive aggressive responses. I can understand the ones who just hate returning calls, and the ones genuinely too busy to reply, but the deliberate dynamics people set up to try to antagonise just leave me more bewildered.

What even is that all about?

Who does that?


It’s bullsh*t. And it happens.

It makes me hate phones more.

I long to go back to the old days where people penned hand written letters with feathers and ink or printed with graceful typewriters. To visit those days when people would patiently wait for the mailman to arrive. I want to grow curious about what friends have been up to so the words gush out like volcanoes erupting whenever we connect. I want to be intrigued and excited to meet so we can share our news from yesterday, last week or last month.

Slowly the desire to be side by side and share is being forgotten.

I seem to meet person-to-person far less often than I used to before this mobile madness. Now all tales and adventures are spilled out through text messages or on social media.

I want to talk with friends sitting across from me sipping coffee or a glass of sweet rose wine. I want to talk when we’re lying by the lake talking nonsense and marvelling at the wonders of the world. I want to talk when the one I love is naked in bed with fingertips tracing the edges of skin. I want to talk when we’re snuggled on sofas with cushions and blankets and we can dry tears and reach out to soothe all sadness. I want to talk in parks having picnics or when lying under the stars. I want to talk at 4 a.m. or 6 p.m. I’ll make the trip, I’ll drive, get the train, whatever. I want to be there.

I’ve no interest in small talk. I want real talk with real hearts.

For anything else, we have white noise. You are there in my mind. You have a place safe and secure in my thoughts and I am there in yours.

For me, that’s enough. And when it isn’t, I will make my way over.




Social Media & Soul: Finding the Balance.


Author: Alex Myles

Editor: Travis May

Photo: Flickr/Raini Svensson

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