Telephonic Torture…

Erin Schaden
5 min readJun 9, 2024


We have all experienced it. Mostly at the hands of someone we love, or like, or need, or want. The phone sits idle and we spin out to crazy town. Such an instrument of torture when lies dormant. Sometimes I find myself looking at it, as if, it has taken on qualities now that absolutely negate its purpose. Like, ringing, was something it could just decide to stop doing.

And now, we have text messages, torturous little worded notes that pop up with abandon, until they don’t. And now the instrument wields two ways to wound.

Writing in the blank space comes easily for a phone that doesn’t ring, or ping. It is all too tempting to write in all that isn’t currently being said.

And I have discovered that it doesn’t really matter, after all, what is not being said, the fact that communicate of any kind has ceased, really speaks for itself. And everything else we write into that blank space, could never be as voluminous as the sheer absence of contact.

Loving requires connection. Which is often inconvenient and requires more from us than we often want to give. Connection requires obligation and interest when often life takes over and draws our attention elsewhere. Most often, likely, a self induced crisis, but often work or children, or exes fill that gap quite nicely.

But lack of communion, communication creates a divide between lovers, friends, family and the like. One that erodes to a breaking point in relatively short order. And I believe this is because it is so easy to send a message, so easy to make a call, the fact that the other person doesn’t, means that you are not important enough to warrant the effort. Any effort, no matter how small.

Somewhere between benign absence and collusion, every gesture or lack thereof from someone you care about becomes significant. The meaning, always not completely known, but the inntonation, the lack of care, replete with every passing minute.

The unavoidable truth is we take care of things we love. And when we stop communicating, the big and the little things, the love, if it was ever there to begin with, withers and dies a lonely and pathetic death. To the one still trying, you wait, you write narrative that excuses the failure to communicate, you pretend because it is all you have left to do. You are just left dangling, wondering, why someone who professes love and admiration and want and need, has just turned you off as if you were a light in an empty room.

To the one who has stifled and killed the communication, well, I cannot really speak to that I guess. Because I am not that person, I don’t think. I have definitely had my moments when I didn’t communicate and took a little time for myself but I am not the kind of person who just goes dark, mostly because I know how absolutely horrid it feels.

So I write in new narrative to fill in all the space left where communication and connection should be. I try to make excuses, to fill in the gaps, all in some sort of fucked up attempt to comfort myself when the person whose job it is to comfort, has literally left the building.

I used to look at my phone all the time, waiting for it to ring, or ping or blow up, something. I don’t anymore, in fact, the amount of acceptance I have about the device and its utter failure to operate correctly, is somewhat astonishing. In reality, it actually delivers hope and despair in equal measure.

I know it isn’t the telephone’s fault. I know that it is just an instrument. And the torture applied is all human created. Mine, mostly.

You cannot make someone love you. Or care about you. Or want you or what you want. And when you allow this other person’s wants, needs, desires and wishes to become more important than your own, you realize, you have sold yourself out, again. And it is only when you have accomplished this, again, that you realize that a phone takes on whatever tenor and pace your relationship allows. It is either an instrument of loving connection or a device of absolute torture and divide.

And it is never the phone’s fault. No, fault belongs solely to the world of human interaction. We attempt to love, but we fail, repeatedly. And as much as we try, so often, every new attempt just becomes another failure realized.

Today, for me, the phone symbolic of a part of myself I have outsourced to the care and concern of another. And so often, at least for me, I have chosen poorly again. Allowed myself to become deluded in the importance I wish to feel in the love of another. Selling myself out again, in some misguided hope that somehow, someway I might find comfort and love and solace and purpose in love’s embrace.

So the phone lies dormant, and I find myself wishing to just turn it off, I mean no one is calling anyway. And the temptation all too real for me to use it to take rash action, that perhaps might be better suited for another day. Sometimes I need resolution and the cost is immaterial.

And that is when the telephone morphs once more from something that tortures me, to something that I weaponize and use in a loosely planned attack upon another. It is right there, and in its availability makes it a weapon of convenience.

It matters almost not at all, how this all plays out. The phone will be involved. The hurt will be lodged, the instrument known. And while it lies idle on its charger, ready for battles silent or loud, the telephone mocks me at every turn. Telling me, daring me to pick it up and speak the truth, and also shames me into silence because the truth is so hard to bare.

And I don’t care who you are, how indifferent you might be to the heart of another, to the pangs of love, or the erosive quality of love denied, the phone is always there, waiting, patiently for you to decide its fate. The torture evident regardless of whether you are the one refusing to use it or you are the one waiting for it to ring.

And all the while, the time might be so much better spent, if you were to throw it down a dark cavern and watch it bounce to its own demise. Then, and only then, are you free. Free from the forced communion, and the forced silence.

I find myself wondering if we might not all be better off, without the tyrant that rules our lives, our heart and metes out an awful justice that feels unjust at every turn. So today might be the day, that I just turn it off, put it into silent mode, thereby telling the world and all its callers and uncallers to just fuck off.

But then again I know, this thought, is just another futile strategy in attempting to gain connection by disconnecting. Again. Still.



Erin Schaden

Who am I? I am all that I write, all that I learn, share and grow. Read and find out? Check out for more.