Nothing scares Barich like an incoming call.
“I feel anxiety. I stiffen up. I also act like I haven’t seen it,” she says. need to reach me, he can text me, leave a voicemail, or keep calling me over and over. I’m waiting for their next shot before deciding what to do.
She also hates not being able to read the facial signs and body language of the person on the other end of the line. She recently chose a massage therapist based solely on whether the therapist has an online appointment booking system. (“When I have to make an appointment on the phone, there have been so many times that I accept the first time they throw up just to hang up.”) It got so bad that Barich recorded a new message from welcome to voicemail. to ward off repeat offenders. “Hi, it’s Adria,” she began. “I really don’t like answering my phone, so if it could be a text that would be wonderful. If not, just know that it’ll probably take me a while to get back to you. Don’t take it personally. It’s just who I am as a person.
She posted her new greeting on TikTok with the caption, “phone calls are literally the worst thing ever invented.” The sentiment resonated. Barich has received feedback from hundreds of people with similar phone phobias. A tortured soul across the pond asked if they could re-record the message in a British accent, so they could use it as their own.
If these live caller fear levels sound ridiculous to you, congratulations. Maybe your friends and family are just calling to chat, and you welcome those phone visits even when they aren’t invited or notified. Perhaps these conversations rarely turn awkward or boring.
For the rest of us, cold calls have become roughly equivalent to showing up unannounced at someone’s house and smashing your face against their window. Our comfort and patience with person-to-person calls has eroded as text messaging has become the preferred way to communicate all but the most serious news. The ringing becomes worrying. For whom does it cost?
“My mom will call me at 4 p.m., and my first guess is, ‘Oh, my grandma passed away’, or something happened. There is always a moment of panic,” says Eric Wheeler, 35. “And she’s always like, ‘Hey! What’s new?’ And I’m like, ‘Well, I’m at work. What’s new? Can you just text me? ”
When Wheeler and her pal Sean Fau decided to start a podcast, inspiration struck for the show’s perfect title: “Text Before Calling.” They talk about all sorts of topics on their show, but that bit of modern etiquette is something they’re in tune with.
“Hearing the phone ringing is embarrassing to my soul,” Fau, 42, said. “I despise phone calls in general.”
When he hears that miserable noise, it triggers a cascade of split-second deliberations: “Do I really want to deal with this person right now? Do I have an excuse?
When Wheeler and Fau agreed to hop the line for this story, it was only the second time in a decade of friendship that they had spoken over the phone. (They communicate primarily via direct messages on Twitter, and they vastly prefer it that way.)
The texts are also good. “Texts are like missiles. ‘Where is that thing?’ ‘What time are you meeting me?’ I love how succinct they are,” says Wheeler.
If texts are precision missiles, phone calls can feel like hot air balloons drifting aimlessly.
“It can be so discursive,” Fau says. “You’re like, ‘Okay, how are you?’ ‘Good.’ ‘I’m fine.’ ‘What’s new?’ Can we get to the point?” Additionally, he adds, “I have the distinct feeling that the call is just plain rude in general. It’s the idea that people only call because they need your attention right now.
The fact that they require immediate and full attention is part of what people find unnerving about unexpected phone calls, says Jeff Hancock, founding director of the Stanford Social Media Lab. Moreover, there is not really time to prepare. Hancock recently learned how unsettling it is for his PhD students to receive an unexpected call from him. “It always freaks them out. They think, ‘Why would he call? I must have done something wrong. What did I do?’ ”
Melissa Kristin Munds, a 34-year-old video producer from Louisiana, remembers the excitement of the landline phone ringing as a child. It could have been a relative or a salesman, but it could also have been a classmate (maybe even a boy!) calling to talk to him. “There was always an element of hope and surprise and excitement,” she says.
This happy buzz stands in stark contrast to the anxiety Munds is feeling now, a lapse she captured in a recent TikTok. “It’s a disturbance. I came out of my moment, out of my safe space,” she says. “At the time, we didn’t have the resources to prepare for everything. We went with the flow. Now we are so used to planning everything. We don’t like surprises.
Munds’ phone is usually set to silent or vibrate, but she recently changed her ringtone to “Moonlight Sonata.”
“It’s soothing,” she said. “So when I hear it, I don’t freak out.”
Spam has invaded our phones. Will we ever want to answer them again?
For Geri Moran, 74, it’s the text messages that stir. She’s an accountant, but she also designs humorous products that she sells on Etsy—funny mugs, coasters, and more—and when she gets into her creative mode, she doesn’t want to stop to go to the bathroom. , let alone meet a friend. And when a call comes in to her landline, she doesn’t feel a little uncomfortable letting the machine answer. That’s why she tries not to give out her cell number.
“When people call your mobile or text you, they expect an immediate response. It annoys me enormously,” Moran says. later to an email or a voicemail. But I’ve had people call me if I don’t reply to a text in an hour or two. I have a real life. I’m not going to interrupt all the time.
Moran has no qualms about calling people out of the blue. And she’s thrilled when her own phone rings. “I to like talk on the phone,” she said. She thinks it provides a kind of intimacy that texting can’t touch.
But there is a case when an incoming call will cause his blood pressure to rise. Moran has a friend who likes to call unexpectedly. And it’s never just a voice call; it’s always via FaceTime.
“It drives me crazy,” Moran says. “It’s the next level for me.”