Like the tech­nol­ogy we use, mil­len­nial anx­i­ety is com­plex and al­ways chang­ing – and with tele­phono­pho­bia ( fear of speak­ing on the phone) a hot topic, we ask: is ig­nor­ing phone calls a fair move, or just plain rude?

Marie Claire (South Africa) - - FILTER -


@Ms_Lynet­teb I’m an anx­ious per­son by na­ture. I al­ways feel like I’m on the back foot and su er from so­cial anx­i­ety. This is not al­ways ap­par­ent on the sur­face. I’m one of those strange ‘ex­tro­verted-in­tro­vert’ types of peo­ple. And a ring­ing phone puts the fear of God in me.

I used to think that this was an ex­tremely ir­ra­tional fear – that I was the only one su er­ing with this a ic­tion. Not so. A willy-nilly poll around the o ce shows that out of around 15 of us, only three peo­ple don’t feel the same way. Add to that the count­less ar­ti­cles – from Forbes to The Guardian – that try to elu­ci­date why mil­len­ni­als are so afraid of speak­ing on the phone, and I think it’s fair to sur­mise that this is a gen­er­a­tional is­sue.

An ar­ti­cle on Busi­nessin­sider.com con rms my feel­ings: so­cial psy­chol­o­gist Heidi Grant Halvor­son, says that mil­len­ni­als aren’t wrong – there is some­thing in­tim­i­dat­ing about the phone. ‘It’s true that mil­len­ni­als are less prac­ticed, hav­ing grown up with email and text and in­stant mes­sag­ing . If your dom­i­nant form of com­mu­ni­ca­tion with peo­ple hasn’t been the phone, then nat­u­rally you’ll be more anx­ious us­ing that form of com­mu­ni­ca­tion,’ she says. ‘With­out the op­tion of edit­ing your­self, you’re more vul­ner­a­ble. In other words, if the phone feels high-pres­sure, that’s be­cause it is. You have to re­spond im­me­di­ately, so there’s a greater like­li­hood you’ll choke.’ Does this re­ac­tion stem from a lack of con dence in our­selves – and our on-the-spot de­ci­sions Pos­si­bly. As a gen­er­a­tion, mil­len­ni­als are pro­claimed to be en­ti­tled, opin­ion­ated and whiny, and also very sen­si­tive to crit­i­cism and feed­back. But the de­ci­sion to avoid the phone is surely linked to the fact that we’ve been born in a time where we are con­nected 24/7. Not an­swer­ing the phone is our de ance against some­thing we had no choice in cre­at­ing.

As Ari­anna Hu ng­ton so elo­quently put it, phones should be there to help and not to hin­der – it’s our right to an­swer (and re­ply) when it suits us, and not the other way around.

So please, don’t call me; I’ll call you (maybe).


I re­cently rang a friend who, a er miss­ing my call, didn’t think to call back but rather texted ask­ing if ‘I needed any­thing’. I didn’t; I only wanted to catch up. When I told an­other friend just how in­fu­ri­ated I was, he dis­missed it as over­re­act­ing on my part.

Mil­len­ni­als in­creas­ingly seem to have some­thing against the phys­i­cal act of pick­ing up or mak­ing phone calls, and al­ways grav­i­tate to­wards send­ing a text in­stead, which is not only rude, but also tricky.

There is some­thing un­nerv­ing about tex­ting, like the ex­pec­ta­tion that you should be near your phone for long pe­ri­ods of time in or­der to have a de­cent conversation. Real-time con­ver­sa­tions, which even­tu­ally come to an end, sit a lit­tle bet­ter with me. We o en nd our­selves glued to our phones and chat­ting to many di er­ent peo­ple, while in the com­pany of oth­ers. Our at­ten­tion is so di­vided; it seems we’ve be­come in­ca­pable of hav­ing sat­is­fac­tory in­di­vid­ual con­ver­sa­tions.

My re­cent and very brief on­line dat­ing stint failed dis­mally be­cause the con­stant tex­ting and ag­ging of end­less ques­tions for weeks be­came stale and ex­haust­ing. Even when we ex­changed num­bers, these guys made no e ort to call but hap­pily texted, so much so that I was turned o from ac­tu­ally meet­ing them when the time came.

My great­est peeve with tex­ting though, is the in­sin­cer­ity. On so many oc­ca­sions I have ex­pressed fake con­cern, forged a laugh when in ac­tual fact I wasn’t in the least in­vested in the conversation. Over and above, tex­ting leaves too much room for con­fu­sion. Ev­ery­thing is le up to in­ter­pre­ta­tion, and things can fes­ter quite quickly if not clari ed. The truth­ful­ness of phone calls is un­der­rated; you can pick up nuances in the per­son’s voice, and you can tell what they are think­ing with­out them tak­ing min­utes to cra the ‘per­fect’ re­sponse.

There is a level of re­spect that comes with phone calls, which I ap­pre­ci­ate. Sim­ply put, phone calls say that I value your time and I want to have a gen­uine conversation. @NonkuKhu­malo

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