Friday, July 29, 2011

Anxiety + Voicemail: how I deal

Being a visual, socially anxious person, nothing makes me more tense than the need to check voice mail. Having my mom tell me, "Pink, did you get my message?" is WAY too stressful for me, almost as stressful as listening to voicemail itself.

Voicemail freaks me out because there is virtually no control behind it. You log into it through your phone, listen to painful beeping noises, and have no control over when the messages are shouted into your ear. The voice commands are stressful too, I hate having to wait to listen for which number to press. Furthermore, if a message is particularly sinister-sounding, it will give me a mini panic attack. Traditional voice mail removes all free will, and leaves you vulnerable to potential abuse being shouted at your ear.

Of course, I know most of the time it will not be abuse, but my ears need a break. This is why I'm so terrible at listening to voicemail. I tell everyone to text me because text messages are something I can handle - they're visual, silent, and can be opened at the viewer's discretion. Furthermore, text doesn't seem to pack as much of a punch as speech. Letters are just lines on a screen with meaning applied; speech, on the other hand, is created with sound waves resonating from an individual's vocal cords, with varying degrees of intensity. Text can also be intense, but the intensity can be controlled, while the intensity of another person's speech is out of your control.

As you can tell, the anxiety really gets to me here. I already spend more time around people than I can emotionally handle, having to put on a friendly face all day. I can deal, but just barely. This overstimulation causes me to retreat into my room 2/3 of the time (yes, I did the math there), attempting to recover from the long day. I can only handle so much unexpected stress. What to do?

Well, I can't take the voice out of voicemail, so I did something to gain a little control: I got YouMail. Youmail is a program which replaces your default voice mailbox on your phone. Not only does it have more storage space than a traditional voicemail system, but you can view your messages in an inbox-like setting online. It tells you who called when, and you can play the message as a clip at your own will. You can also organize and delete messages much like e-mail. How cool is that?!

In addition, I also set it up so it will text me when I get a voicemail, telling me who called and when. This removes another stressor from voice mail: I never know when people call and am always confused. This feature helps eliminate that issue. I also have an app to check it on my iPod touch when there's wireless - the messages show up in a visual setting there. It's way awesome, and while this doesn't alleviate all my anxiety, it's definitely a relief.

Of course, there are other features (personalized greetings, blocking callers, sharing messages online) but I don't care much about those. The only thing I care about is the fact that YouMail helps me feel more in control of a communication tool that NT's take for granted, and expect everyone else to take for granted as well.

As you can tell, I'm absolutely ecstatic about this program. While free speech-to-text would be ideal, I'm not paying shit for that. So this is the next best thing, right?

1 comment:

Gavin said...

This might be the most interesting thing I've read today. Also. I definitely prefer text. Way easier to ignore people I can't deal with.

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