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A three-eyed monster or victim of hype?

By Keith Perena

Published: Fri 20 Sep 2019, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 20 Sep 2019, 2:00 AM

Having a new iPhone is all well and good, but ever since it was unveiled to the public last week, Apple fans who suffer from trypophobia - aka fear of tiny holes - have been complaining about the rather disturbing design.
But first, some science (or lack thereof); according to The Washington Post, trypophobia is not recognised in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM-5. It's a tool that is used by psychologists and psychiatrists to diagnose patients. The condition was named in 2005 via social media forum, Reddit. Some men and women flocked to the forums claiming they have an irrational fear of holes. Thus, trypophobia - as we know it, was born.
Most sufferers of the phobia are often self-diagnosed. According to The Post, the 'social media-borne ailment' gained traction over the next decade with support groups popping up. Even Kendall Jenner jumped in on the bandwagon and said images of tiny holes gave her "the worst anxiety".
"Things that could set me off are pancakes, honeycomb, or lotus heads (the worst!)," she wrote. "It sounds ridiculous but so many people actually have it!"
Cut back to the iPhone 11. While I'm no medical expert, I'll have to admit that seeing the new line of iPhones for the first time did make me feel uneasy. For a handheld device, having three cameras that occupy a huge swathe of the phone's real estate, was quite jarring.
Apple has been known for its innovative designs - and also being the butt of Internet memes. When they introduced the iPhone 7, which removed the traditional 3.5mm headphone jack, everyone was furious. I remember watching a video on YouTube which poked fun at Apple's 'innovations'. It presented a fictional line of future iPhones with the final generation having no handheld device at all - the device was simply implanted in your head. Fast forward a couple of years later and Apple made waves with the iPhone X, this time sans the home button. I tried using the device but could not get over learning a new moveset without the trusty home button. Which is why I'm quite content with my iPhone 7 - which has the aforementioned button.
It's hard to determine whether or not the new Apple devices do trigger a fear of holes. Without any scientific evidence, we can only rely on the folks who claim they don't like seeing a bunch of tiny holes. It's better to just stop calling it a phobia and say that it's a pet peeve. I'm not saying the condition doesn't exist, all I'm saying is that we could better help and understand each other if we didn't feel that the condition lacked any science. Social media tends to amplify topics and trypophobia is one such example. We don't need a medical condition to say, "Oh, I don't like these tiny holes", it's better to just say we don't like it period.
What I do find disturbing about the new design is how much it evokes Kubrick's character HAL - from 2001: A Space Odyssey. There's something unnerving about three lenses seemingly looking out into the world. It may just be paranoia, but I do feel that the cameras are so pronounced, they might as well be watching you when you're asleep. And in this day and age where online privacy is such a talking point, a phone with three cameras doesn't help. Maybe smartphones ought to stay in their own backyard and leave the photography work to the actual cameras. Because if this trend continues, folks with trypophobia have way more to worry about."

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