I hate phones.
I’ve pretty much always been this way. I’ve never been the one to order the pizza, never been the one to call customer service unless I have to, and always try to push responsibility off on someone else when a phone call needs to be made. If I don’t recognize your number on my caller ID, I will not answer, and if the call isn’t urgent, I will likely not call you back (often telling myself, “I’ll call back later” (to make time for a personal pep talk) and the inevitably forgetting to do so.)
I’m not sure what made me this way, but my instincts tell me that the logical explanation lies in my social awkwardness. In person, I find it difficult to start conversations with people (even people I know from time to time) and often appear snobbish due to my deeply rooted shyness. I dread the inevitable lull in conversation. I don’t feel comfortable in large groups of people, and don’t have the confidence to hold my own in a situation where I’m being introduced to someone’s friends. I would be a terrible trophy wife, and I thank God everyday that although I am sometimes forced to meet my husband’s friends in a professional setting, his outgoing personality usually overshadows the fact that I’m desperately wishing for invisibility.
The benefit is, in face-to-face conversations, I’m fairly good at reading people. Although I have a tendency to fill every moment of silence with SOME kind of babble (again, I dread a lull…) I can usually tell by a person’s expressions and body language how things are going, and generally know when I’m being boring, annoying, hilarious, etc. (And for those of you who are really good at pretending to be interested in someone’s conversation, you are to blame if I’m boring you to death or driving you crazy.) Phone conversations lack this essential element. If there is a lull in a phone conversation, I don’t know whether to try to grasp for some kind of topic to chat about, defer to you to fill the silence, or try to politely end the conversation. This causes me to go into a panic. Thus, just the thought of calling someone can cause my heartbeat to speed up and my breathing to become labored.
I can handle calling a business if I have a specific need or request that can be attended to relatively quickly, with little chit-chatting and explanation. My various jobs in the past have all required phone skills, and therefore I can handle these situations with relative ease. I can also handle a social call if I have a specific reason for calling you. But if I don’t know why you’re calling me, or if you’re “just calling to chat” and I don’t know what to talk about, I will probably avoid my phone altogether. If it can be handled by text, email, or Facebook message, you can expect to be hearing from me that way.
It’s not that I don’t like you. It’s not that I don’t want to talk to you. It’s just that, for whatever reason, the idea of talking to you on the phone terrifies me a little, whether you’re a stranger or a friend. There are few exceptions to this rule, and I don’t know how to change it. If you get a call from me, please know that I am probably hyperventilating as quietly as possible on the other end of the line, and if there is a lull and you think we should be done talking, please do me a favor and end the conversation so I don’t start crying. It’ll be easier for both of us that way.