Communication

Hundreds of thousands of years ago language developed. Humans invented a manner of expressing thoughts to others with their vocal cords.
Thousands of years ago, a postal system developed independently in various cultures.
Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1440, Bell invented the phone in 1876, and a large number of smart people came up with the Internet sometime in the 1960s.

Humans are a societal species, and expressing our thoughts allows us to cooperate and help each other to degrees that no other animal can approach. I’m not talking about warnings of approaching predators or where to find food or how to build a honeycomb together. We put down pages of stuff to describe fiction, things that don’t exist and things that, as far as we know, couldn’t exist. We think about thoughts and about expressing thoughts and about thoughts about thoughts and write enough articles about these to fill a library. Every nuance of feeling, every unexpected comparison, every event or possibility in the past, present, future… the list goes on and on.

So why am I so terrified of this ability?

Every phone call is a twisted roller-coaster ride for me. I have to check the number three times and hold my breath as the dial tone sounds. During the call, I stumble over my words incessantly, relying on the other person to guess what I’m trying to say. After the call ends I may spend ten minutes or longer coming up with smart replies and remarks I could have made to make the call better, but the next call I make is no different.

Forum posts and email are no different. I can spend half an hour or longer trying to get the words in a one-line email just right, so as to sound not too pretentious but not too childish, not too formal but not too informal, not too demanding but not too meek. Consciously I know that nobody gives a damn but I can’t bring myself to treat the unretractable written word so casually.

Even talking is troublesome for me. I never know how to say hello or keep a conversation going. That awkward silence when there is nothing left to talk about is a daily occurrence for me. I berate myself often for not saying a hi to somebody I recognize but nothing ever changes. One major reason is that I think I’ll get their name wrong. It takes a lot of conscious effort for me to get people’s names down with their faces.

Obligatory xkcd here.

I worry about getting a no as a reply. I know that most people are going to be nice because I’m just a high-schooler who isn’t trying to sell some magical pore-cleansing cream to people who don’t need it. I also know that there are still a few grumps and just whole-out irrational people out there and I don’t ever want to have to deal with them. I get enough frustration from FB screencaps on r/atheism.

It’s easy to tear this fear apart strand by strand with my powerful rational reason, but it still doesn’t go away, like conceivably every irrational fear ever.

Oh well, I will now go and put “fear of telephone conversations” into Google.

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