Call me crazy, but I HATE my phone

Call me crazy, but I HATE my phoneTwo-thirds of us say we're terrified of losing our mobiles, but LINDA KELSEY is more scared about using hers

Nomophobia — that’s the fear of being out of mobile phone contact — is on the rise. Apparently, a recent survey discovered 66 per cent of people are terrified of being without their phone.

And 41 per cent even have a spare mobile at home — just in case they lose the first one.

But this is one modern trauma I just can’t relate to. Whenever the phone rings in my home or my handbag, my instinct is to reach for the ear plugs.

Ring of terror: Fear of the telephone is a recognised form of social anxiety disorder

Ring of terror: Fear of the telephone is a recognised form of social anxiety disorder

For years I’ve thought I must be the only woman in Britain who’d rather communicate by carrier pigeon than pick up the receiver to friend or stranger.

I’m not exaggerating when I say every time the phone starts to trill, a shiver of dread runs down my spine.

Such is my phone phobia, I’d rather just stare at the damned thing until it stops ringing, deferring the agony of answering by letting the person leave a message or at least giving me the chance to dial 1471 on the landline.

That way I can choose my own moment to call back and not get caught out by someone I really don’t want to talk to right now or, indeed, someone I never want to talk to in my entire life — like my call centre pals in India who try to sell me life insurance or what they assure me is an irresistible deal on double-glazing.

Unsurprisingly, this unwillingness to talk on the phone has not made me popular with my friends and family, most of whom are happy to spend hours wittering.

In fact, it’s something of a surprise that I have any friends or family left who are willing to put up with me.

Over and over I’ve had to explain that while I’m quite prepared to use the phone to make arrangements or catch up briefly (three minutes max), I’m never going to be the kind of friend who rings for a chat about nothing in particular, and is still talking about nothing in particular 40 minutes later.

I’m old-fashioned in this respect. I like to look people in the eye when I speak to them. I like conversation, not mindless phone chatter.

'As far as I'm concerned, the phone is
time-wasting and tyrannical, and all calls other than for work purposes
or to make appointments are nuisance calls'

When I moved into a new neighbourhood with my baby son, I realised I was already slightly acquainted with the woman opposite. She was single and a sucker for babies, so I said she was welcome to drop in any time at all, but I would never call to invite her.

She took me at her word and popped in on a regular basis. Some 23 years on and we’re still good friends, even though I doubt I’ve called her more than two dozen times in two decades.

On the other hand, she is the same woman who confessed to me that she spends between two-and-a-half and three hours every day talking to her daughter and her female friends.

‘The phone is my lifeline, I’d be lost without it,’ she told me.

As far as I’m concerned, the phone is time-wasting and tyrannical, and all calls other than for work purposes or to make appointments are nuisance calls. Thank God I had the sort of mother who was more likely to say, ‘Yes, dear, what I can do for you’ than the kind who’ll harangue you if a single day goes by without you checking in.

And don’t get me started on phone manners. I wouldn’t dream of ringing someone without announcing myself and asking if it’s an OK time to talk.

Most women do neither, barely managing a hello before launching into a minute-by-minute account of their day, off-loading every tiny detail of their failure to get through to the water board or their run in with their colleague at work.

Phone phobia: Linda experiences a surge of anxiety before making a call and always worries that she's is bothering the person she's trying to reach (posed by model)

Phone phobia: Linda experiences a surge of anxiety before making a call and always worries that she's is bothering the person she's trying to reach (posed by model)

They’ve not stopped for a moment to consider whether I might be working when they call in the middle of the day (I work from home); preparing a meal (when they call at 7pm) or asleep (when they call at 8.30am on a Sunday).

When it comes to the phone, most women just don’t know when to start or when to stop.

Yet, one fed-up-with-me friend has decided my antipathy to the phone isn’t just insulting, it’s an illness.

She’s right in a way, because the truth is I don’t just hate the phone, I’m frightened of it, and always have been.

After her latest dressing down I decided to do some research and it turns out I am suffering from phone phobia, a recognised social anxiety disorder.

Looking down the list of symptoms, I discovered I suffer from most of them: a surge of anxiety before making or receiving calls; the delaying tactics I use before making a call; asking others to make the call for me if I possibly can; apologising for bothering the other person and offering to call back if they’re busy before they’ve had a chance to say it.


If I'm the one ringing someone out of the blue, it feels as bad as breaking into a group of chatting people at a party'

If I’m the one ringing someone out of the blue, it feels as bad as breaking into a group of chatting people at a party. What goes through my mind is the thought they might snub me or are wishing I hadn’t butted in.

More serious phobics than I tend to shake while they’re speaking, feel their heart racing and have difficulty in concentrating. The only reason I can’t concentrate is because I’m probably trying to read the newspaper or catching up on something infinitely more interesting — such as dusting.

The thing is that even if I am phobic, it’s a phobia I don’t want cured, because it would mean endless hours doing what I’ve spent most of my life avoiding.

However, technology has provided a happy compromise and proved my salvation. Because as much as I hate talking, I love texts and emails.

With texting, I can stay in touch without my friends feeling I’m neglecting them. With emails, I can handle tricky situations, say what I want without fear of interruption or not getting my point across properly, and reply instantly or at leisure.

But even to this there’s a downside. Last week, I got myself a smart phone. And guess what My Samsung Galaxy is so damn smart that it writes texts for me, spelling out sentences I never intended even before my finger has touched a single letter.

So frustrating has the business of texting become I’m starting to wish I really could lose my phone after all — and then my spare.