Warmly Welcome a New Member of the Phobia Family!
Advanced students of English will know that any English word ending in the suffix “-phobia” refers to a fear of something, generally a fairly extreme fear of the sort which can cause serious anxiety or even panic attacks.
Some relatively common examples would be: claustrophobia, which is the fear of enclosed spaces; agoraphobia, the fear of open places; acrophobia, the fear of high places; or xenophobia, the fear of foreigners.
Some slightly more obscure examples of phobias would be:
cynophobia the fear of dogs
ornithophobia the fear of birds
arachnophobia the fear of spiders
pyrophobia the fear of fire
gerascophobia the fear of growing old
gametophobia the fear of marriage
gymnophobia the fear of nudity
telephonophobia the fear of telephones
aviatophobia the fear of flying
Readers interested in finding even more obscure examples of phobias may want to check an English language thesaurus under “fear” or “phobia.”
Each of these “phobias”, which are noun forms, can be turned into an adjective by changing the suffix from “-phobia” to “-phobic.”
For example, “Bill is acrophobic, so he avoided standing near the window of the conference room on the 80th floor of the skyscraper.”
Or, “The anti-aging clinic’s clientele included a number of gerascophobic men and women who paid high fees for elaborate rejuvenation treatments.”
Or, “Sally is claustrophobic, so she always chose to travel by train or car rather than by airplane.”
You’ve probably met people with one phobia or another. Although some phobias (e.g. fear of nudity, marriage, or telephones) seem a bit comical at first glance, a phobia is definitely not a laughing matter to someone who suffers from one; and they are more common than you might think.
Psychologists tell us that many phobias have their roots in some traumatic experience very early in life which triggers the phenomenon of irrational fear associated with a particular object or situation. In more extreme cases, phobias can impose great inconvenience on the sufferer’s lifestyle.
Although I am not a psychologist, I have discovered an example of another, perhaps brand new, category of phobia which appears to have developed not during my childhood but much later in my life.
It would not have been possible for me, for example, to have developed this particular phobia early in life, because the circumstances did not exist yet, nor were they even imaginable to ordinary people.
I am happy to report that I am successfully resisting this phobia so far, but it casts a long shadow which makes me vigilant and watchful at all times.
I have checked the reference materials and found no existing name for this phobia.
Based on the “graying” demographic trends in the United States, China, and many other major countries around the world, the evidence suggests that we are on the verge of explosive growth in the phobia I am about to name and describe.
In other words, this could be a breakthrough, a discovery of possibly epic proportions. And, please note, you read about it first right here in Sibuxiang’s blog.
The “eureka” moment in which I discovered this phenomenon happened the other morning when the bank called me to report my credit card payment was late. I checked my records and confirmed I had mailed the cheque more than two weeks earlier, so I telephoned the bank to discuss next steps.
The automated answering service asked me to input various numbers into the phone (language options, credit card number, nature of my inquiry, etc. ), which I did. It then asked me for my telephone banking personal identification number (separate and distinct from my ATM personal ID number or my internet banking personal ID number). Telephone banking PIN?!
I had a sinking feeling. Not only could I not recall that number, but I could not recall whether I even had such a number or not. And no more voicemail options were available to me. This was a dead end, and I appeared to be trapped. I felt the pangs of this new form. of phobia creeping in.
Let me first propose a name for this new phobia: passophobia.
I suggest “passophobia” refer to the fears associated with passwords, personal identification numbers (PINs), door codes, and related secret codes which are required to perform. a fast-growing range of important functions in our daily life, yet which we are told to remember without writing them down anywhere, lest they fall into the wrong hands, resulting in theft of our money, assets, or identity.
Consider this. At last count my collection of passwords (“Change them often! Don’t write them down!”), user names, and PINs is the size of a small telephone book, and growing.
Within this list are various passwords, user names and access codes required to operate my laptop and wireless access services in several locations, my iPad, my cell phone, various bank accounts and credit cards in different locations (different ones for ATM, online banking, and telephone banking), a host of online information websites, movie cinemas offering online ticketing, airline frequent flyer programs, hotel loyalty point programs, car rental companies, chamber of commerce membership online access codes, specialty online retailers, alumni networks, social networking sites, etc..
None of these passwords were a factor in my life until ten or so years ago, let alone during my childhood years, because they are all by-products of the internet age. Don’t get me wrong. They are very useful. But there are way too many of them for a normal person of my age to keep track of, and the number just keeps growing.
Nowadays, I cannot operate on a typical day without using them. I have more passwords than family members, by far. If the current rate of growth continues, soon I’ll have more passwords than the number of years I’ve lived on the planet, which is a lot. (“Don’t write them down! Change them often! Don’t use the same one twice!” )
As personal and corporate internet security concerns continue to spiral, it follows that we’ll be under more pressure to create longer, more clever passwords, and change them more often.
At the same time, with advancing years comes declining memories. And that’s exactly where “passophobia” creeps into the picture.
Can you imagine waking up one day, not recalling some or all of your key passwords or the location of the secret place where — against all the best advice of the leading experts — you wrote them down? You’d be paralyzed, unable to function, with nowhere to turn for help. Can you imagine a new voicemail option such as “Press 99 if you’ve lost ALL your passwords and want to talk to a lawyer.”
Apart from experiencing a great big sinking feeling, you’d also be unable to get money out of your bank account, or transfer it to a loved one, or watch a film in the cinema, or check the status of friends and family on your favorite social network, or buy something online, or book an airline or hotel, or (maybe) read the news online — in other words you’d be virtually stuck in a passophobic funk.
My hope is that some innovative young inventor will soon create a brand new portable device which will securely manage and organize all these passwords, PINs, user names and codes. Clinging to this hope is what helps me keep passophobia at bay.
Come on, inventors, get busy!