What causes phone anxiety

Generation fear of the telephone: why make a phone call when you can text?

We are the generation that takes to the streets for the climate, does internships abroad and uses social media to gain a voice that politics does not allow it. It seems like we are not afraid of anything or anyone. Unless the cell phone rings unannounced. Then a whole generation can get gasps. Psychotherapist and media educator Lukas Wagner told us where our fear of telephoning comes from and whether we really have to face it.

In one minute you lie relaxed on the bed and scroll through Insta and Co, in the other, any previously felt deep relaxation has left your body never to be seen again. The reason: Your cell phone rings. And worse: "Unknown number is calling". As your heart starts racing and you start to sweat, you feverishly try to remember if you expect anyone to call you back.

Telephoning just doesn't seem to be our thing. Also published in 2019Social Impact Studyfrom A1 confirms that the trend is towards Typing instead of telephoninggoes. How to use our mother ship, the Kleine Zeitung reports 52 percentof the respondents use their smartphones mainly for written communication. For those under 24, there are even whole72 percent. But are we really afraid of using the phone?

Fear of the phone: what does the feed community say about it?

To answer this question, we quickly started a survey and wanted to know: How do you react when an unknown number calls you?For the vast majority (757 votes) was clear:"First I google the number."A not insignificant part (132 votes) chose the"Outbreak of sweat", followed by "To ignore".For some, however, the unknown call doesn't seem to bother so much: at least 248 people stated that they would pick up and immediately36 people said they would call back in a moment.

So our community doesn't seem to be in complete agreement when it comes to telephoning. The unknown call still seems to leave most users uncomfortable - after all, the majority stated that they googled the number first. Ultimately, when asked directly about the topic of telephoning, most people answer:"If it has to be"(442 people).

Bosses telephoning: where does the telephone phobia come from?

But why do we have problems using the phone? We are after all #generationsmartphone and sometimes know the functions of our cell phones better than those of our body. So why is it? For a user, it is bad experiences that make her shy away from talking on the phone:"I took a call once for a summer job and was verbally abused."Another user doesn't like to make a phone call because he is being talked for too long and he feels bad when he wants to hang up. Others, on the other hand, prefer to look at the other person while speaking and the gestures and facial expressions to be able to see the other person.

I am more eloquent and more confident when I write. When talking, I give in quickly. (A user when asked why she doesn't like telephoning)

However, the most common reason for aversion to telephoning appears to be in our community survey Overwhelming and, related to this, the worry of not being able to articulate oneself adequately. So we got answers like"I get super nervous, always make promises and embarrass myself"or“I'm more eloquent and more confident when I write. When talking, I give in quickly. "Many users also write that it is too much for them to having to react immediately when making a phone call: "You cannot prepare for the content of the conversation" or"When I write, I can give myself more time and think about what I'm saying."

Another important result from our survey: UOur users seem not reluctant to make phone calls per se. They just don't like to talk on the phone Unknown. For example, one user writes that she finds phone calls with strangers stressful, but with friends it is"Easy cheesy".

Telephone anxiety: what a psychotherapist says about it

In order to get to the bottom of the phenomenon, we met withLukas Wagner to chat. He is a psychotherapist and media educator and has his own practice in Graz.

Food: Be honest, do you prefer to order your pizza via the delivery service app or by phone?

Lukas Wagner: (laughs) Delivery service app.

Many young people panic when their smartphone rings and an unknown number appears on the display. Why?

I share the observation 100 percent myself. On the one hand, I believe that the telephoning function has become less important. If you think about what a smartphone actually is: a photo medium, a visual, a design, a creative device. I'm on Instagram, on Snapchat, reading the newspaper. And the thing happens to be able to make calls, but we no longer perceive it as a phone device.

I don't have the control factor when making calls. […] Nobody notices when I am stammering when I am emailing because I am nervous.

On the other hand, it's about control. Our media use today is more media design than media consumption. Example: Snapchat. Not only am I on Snapchat to get snaps, I also send them out. That is, it is a medium that is creative - but creative in a controlled manner. None of this is spontaneous in any real sense. I am in control of what I do. I take 15 photos before uploading any of them. I don't have the control factor when talking on the phone: who is on the phone, how I shape the relationship, how quickly I answer, what I say, whether that is sensible: I have no control over that. As well as control over how I am perceived. When it comes to emails, nobody notices if I'm stammering because I'm nervous.

So we are shifting our communication more and more into writing in order to have more control over it?

Exactly. However, communication is also becoming less complicated in terms of automation. I don't have to order my pizza by email or phone, the wonderful app detects where I am via GPS. Again one less source of error. When talking on the phone, there is a much greater risk that an immediate relationship may or may not work. It's different when ordering pizza via app: If that didn't work, I pressed the wrong button.

In times of Corona, a large part of our communication takes place via video telephony, for example during online lectures. We seem to be less afraid of the telephone. What is the difference to the unknown number calling?

It gets lost in this predictability factor. I don't really know what to expect.

Did the generations of our parents prefer to talk to strangers on the phone than we do, is it us?

That is a cultural question in the sense of digital culture. Our parents' parents or grandparents probably asked: Why don't you write a letter? Telephoning was incredibly innovative back then. There is a media break between generations. Nowadays it is said: 'That could have been clarified with a phone call in ten seconds and instead five emails are written back and forth.' For a generation that, according to many studies, experiences digital stress, calling can also be something intrusive. They find it stressful to disturb someone else's day with a phone call or to be disturbed themselves. Emails or WhatsApp messages give the other a lot more freedom. When you call, you have to pick up or call back. This then takes place synchronously.

Doesn't this also mean that we forget spontaneity?

Yes, I already have that feeling. At least spontaneity up to a point when it comes to the immediate relationship.It could be that I'm calling and am disturbing terribly right now. I am taking the risk alone if I do not call but write a message. We take out elements of an immediate relationship. Disturbances, excessive demands, and you don't know what to do happen in relationships - these are also central elements of the relationship between two people. That is exactly what makes a relationship.Certainly something is lost through other forms of contact, but something is also gained.

What do you win?

The uncomplicated, the sometimes clearer communication. Express yourself more easily and in a more controlled manner. To be able to think about what to write. And you avoid your fear: this is of course a massive gain. If there is an easier way, why not take it? It would be unreasonable to work with fear every time.

In some situations, however, you have to make phone calls that cannot be avoided. How can you face the fear of the phone?

Two things. First - the psychotherapist comes through now (grins): It's okay to be afraid. Telephoning can be scary. It doesn't mean that we are bad people, incompetent, or clumsy. It just means: I'm afraid of using the phone. Another is afraid of spiders. People have fears. That doesn't mean that something has to be changed about it. We are all works of art as we go through the world - with our fears, attitudes and desires.

Telephoning can be scary. That doesn't mean we are bad people, incompetent, or clumsy. It just means: I'm afraid of using the phone. Another is afraid of spiders.

Second: Sometimes I'm nervous too, I've developed a kind of telephone personality over time. This is my alter ego, so I say to myself, 'Okay. It's good that you're scared. Very stressful, you may have applied somewhere, they will probably call you back ‘. I then send the fear part to the kitchen. The non-fear part - the brave telephone voice - now calls there and does it for the five minutes that the phone call lasts. In the kitchen he can then pick up the fear part again and the two of them drink a beer and celebrate that you can work with fear that way. We change the mode, so to speak. That helps some people, but of course it's not a panacea. You can also say to yourself: “Thank you dear fear, it's good, you take care of me, but now I don't need you right now. For 5 minutes I take care of myself and afterwards you come back and we are scared to death when talking on the phone. But right now in this situation you are more of an obstacle than helpful. "No question about it, fears are always helpful. Until they hinder us so much that a good life is not possible. That would then be the maximum expression.

What would an example of this be?

When you notice over months or years that your own circles are getting smaller and smaller. If it's not just calling, but contact with strangers in general. For example, to receive the ordered pizza at the door. A good yardstick would be to consider: Was that possible six months ago and now it is no longer possible? Then you should consider whether psychotherapy or professional help can be of support.

Let's take a look into the future: How will telephoning develop in the future?

The delivery service apps are an early glimpse into the future. I think we will find fewer and fewer scenarios in which it “makes sense” to make a call - simply because of increasingly automated processes. For example, we will no longer have to call any office to apply for student aid. This brings telephoning back more into the relationship space. Who I then call is my parents, my best friends, my partner, or my therapist.

Also on feed:

#physicaldistancing: How to escape loneliness in lockdown