This is a rant about a problem I have which is a very first world problem. I’m sorry to anyone who finds this to be nit-picking flaws in opportunity and privilege; the problem of phones is not necessarily only first world, but the complaining about privilege sure feels like it.  Nonetheless, I am still going to write this.

I have had a deep-rooted dislike of phones for most of my life. I feel a lot of anxiety when making calls, or receiving them, and as a result, I am typically very hard to get a hold of, either by phone, text, or email.

                                  From:            http://cartoonsmix.com/cartoons/can-telephone-cartoon.html

 Most of the people I know have mostly given up on timely responses. I’ll hear voicemail six months after it was intended to be heard, see texts and not answer them until I see the person who sent it and they ask in person, and my email backlog is insane. I’m buried in it. Part of the build up is because of a number of things I ask my friends to send me, images and story ideas and such, and part of it is because I have the same anxiety I do with phones and text, appointments and just things I miss. I start feeling existential dread that I haven’t responded yet, and it stresses me out to the point where I can’t respond because of how worked up in my brain the not-answering has gotten to. I can’t find the right thing to say, even if it’s obvious because I’ve taken so long to respond in the first place.

I’ll tell people I don’t like phones, but in this crazy, connected world we live in, the ‘dislike’ gets overlooked and becomes an unhelpful pattern, a problem that irritates other people. One friend even has concluded that if I haven’t responded to a person in a timely manner, it just shows that I don’t care enough. I don’t care enough to respond, I don’t care enough to be engaged in their life and their conversations and the things they need from me.

It doesn’t matter that I have tried to explain that I do care, but that I don’t like phones. It’s hard for me to express how much stress and panic the text and phone communication causes for me because I feel so irritated that it’s a problem for me at all. Usually, I try to just cover it up and compensate for it, but… well, it’s a big problem for me.

From: http://www.keywordsuggests.com/MsYM80XeMuN7eOKRVHGU2JmymoXHFDaCkf%7COVr0f0UnB%7CAW11WgGEbgZk2H0GVekhzIoG4u*n2FOXXr02QUzWw/

At my work now, I have to call people and answer the phone tens of times a day. And I put on my work face, and pretend it doesn’t bother me, and go home and feel emotionally and mentally exhausted. I can do this, I can keep doing this because I have to. But it wears on me.

Originally a quote from the TV series “Archer”

And I come home, and there are still people on my phone; expecting me to respond on their time, intruding on my brain space and my capacity. It’s an invasion of my space. When I come home, I want to be home. And since it’s not possible to just drop off the map for a while, when someone starts or continues a conversation with me, I feel like I have to respond — or show them that I don’t care, or that I’m too lazy, or selfish, or or or. It’s not a good feeling, and it quickly escalates into the guilt cycle of not having responded making it harder to do so at all.

The spin cycle struggle is real.

But with all of this said, I really like writing letters. There is something so incredibly beautiful about the written word on the page, the smell of the ink and paper, the feel of your tools in your hand, watching the words emerge from the tip of the pen or pencil or brush, whatever your favorite instrument is, and creating something that is a very real and finite intention of communication from you to the recipient.

They build up so wonderfully for you, in a stack of potential and secrecy, veiled love and statements and demands and questions that wait for you in a basket or on the floor, whatever your favorite storage system is, and the response demanded is not instantaneous. There is an expectation that travel time is included along with comprehension time and reaction. There is an expectation that when you put a letter in the mailbox, you might get one back, or you might not. It can get lost. It can be read and ignored. But there is nothing which grabs you by the ribs and demands your immediate intention. They’re on a timetable of when the USPS delivers them. The timing is slower, gentler, more permissive.

And that’s just the transportation of letters.

Letters themselves can be full of artistry and creation. Everything from the handwriting, to the introduction of olfactory potentials, and the content matters. You can have a very serious letter which is blocked out, black and white, demanding and self-important. You can have a letter which is illuminated like medieval manuscripts, torn at the edges and stained with the writer’s coffee.

You can include knights fighting giant snails. Because why not? From: http://io9.gizmodo.com/bizarre-and-vulgar-illustrations-from-illuminated-medie-1456202572

You can include comics, pressed flowers, clippings of other writing, pictures, glitter, gifts and all sorts of surprises.

Phones don’t have this quality for me. Maybe we will have that, someday. But right now, it is a separation from the people I care about, not something that brings me closer. It frightens me, instead of opening up possibility. If I had my druthers, I would wait for the mail everyday to see who had written me what, and what was important enough for them to take the extra time to sit down and actually write to me. Not a Snapchat, or Tweet, or Tumble, but actually a private and special message to me. That seems to embody more caring than text or phone.

This is entirely impractical. People need to be in touch with me more constantly, for more reasons, and I know I have to stretch beyond what frightens me and overwhelms me. I need to work on putting other people’s needs in the order that is appropriate to make sure that when I am contacted there is a response that is helpful and productive.

But I don’t want to. Not because I don’t care, but because if there is one thing that I want to do for myself, it’s allow myself this barrier. I won’t answer the phone, most likely, and I will probably wait until I see you in person to talk about your text. And heaven help you if you send me an email.

But I am trying. I do care about you, and I want to know how you’re doing and what I can do to help. I am trying, and maybe I’ll get better at it as time passes. But in the meantime all I can ask is that people understand that for me, this is hard. And maybe, just maybe, if you aren’t too busy, you might write me a letter.

I would love to talk to you.

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