This post is actually an update of a post I wrote back in 2009.
I’m not a big fan of phones. In fact, it would be safe to say, I have a phobia when it comes to phones.
At work, I can have a message on my phone that takes forever for me to check. I love my parents, but loathe having to make a phone call. In fact, I’ve tried to get my dear mother to use email to no avail. Since I have aging parents, I have to call more frequently than I used to and it means I have to gather up all my stregnth to dial those numbers.
If it comes down to talking to someone on the phone or by email, I would chose email all the time.
It’s a wonder that I was a customer phone representative for four years. Four years! Maybe that’s why I see those four years in such a negative light.
For persons with Aspergers, dealing with what might seem to be a regular social interaction can seem like trying to climb Mount Everest. I know that it’s quite common for aspies to have a fear of phones for the same reason some aspies hate being in crowds or going to parties: it means social interaction, something we are not good at.
For me, being on the phone is basically the same as engaging in small talk with someone at a party (another thing I have difficulty navigating). I never know when to talk and when not to talk. I have to learn to employ more small talk skills that I don’t have to use in emails. Penelope Trunk describes what it’s like for an aspie to deal with the phone:
For some reason, people feel that a phone call does not have to stay on topic. In fact, people open up a phone call by talking with you about the thing that is not the topic. For example, “How have you been?” This question is disconcerting for me. Is the person really calling to talk about our mental state? Or do they mean our physical state? Or is that a fake question and the real topic is coming. I get nervous immediately because I don’t know what we are talking about. In an email, though, I can read through the whole thing, get to the topic, and respond directly to the topic. Email is so straightforward, and even if it’s not, it’s asynchronous, so I can ask for help.
Of course, I can’t use autism as an excuse. Most people use the phone for communication and I have to learn to control my fear. The fact is, I have to use the phone especially when it comes to being a pastor. A ton of pastoral work takes place on the phone, things that real can’t be done with an email…at least right now.
So, I have to buckle down and deal with the phone. I have to learn some ways of dealing with and bypassing the fear of being on a phone. It’s not what I want, but it’s the cards that I’m dealt. It it might mean writing down what I want to say and even learning to only be on the phone for short bursts of time. But since I can’t control the world, I have to learn to live with it as it is.
Just another one of my quirks…
(For the record, I have a smartphone, an iPhone. I like to check my email , surf the web , check Facebook and text people I know. I love my phone for all the cool things it does, except the fuction that makes a phone a phone.)