The just-announced iPhone 11 Pro is something out of some people’s nightmares. No, it’s not the $999 price tag that’s freaking everyone out. It’s the way the three cameras look. The phone features a wide camera, a telephoto camera, and an ultra-wide camera, arranged in a triangular shape. And this particular shape is triggering those with trypophobia — the fear of small, closely-packed holes.
As soon as images of the phone were released, people on Twitter started freaking out about the holes. “If this is real, people with trypophobia are going to have a rough time,” one person tweeted. “Those new cameras trigger my trypophobia and it’s no joke,” added another.
An illustrator named Amy even created an image in which the iPhone Pro was covered with dozens of tiny cameras. “it’s body horror but for iPhones,” she tweeted.
The term trypophobia was first coined by a GeoCities blogger named Louise in 2005, and the phobia is not recognized by the American Psychiatric Association. According to Healthline, there is not much research on the condition and experts are divided on whether it should be recognized. One 2016 study found that about 16% of people experience trypophobia, and researchers suggested that there may be an evolutionary part of the brain that associates clusters of holes with a poisonous animal. But unlike other phobias, such as agoraphobia, trypophobia "is not a major public health problem,” Franklin Schneier, MD, co-director of the Anxiety Disorders Clinic and special lecturer in psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center, previously told Refinery29.
Despite its lack of official recognition, trypophobia has been extensively discussed online — there are even Facebook groups and subreddits for people who have it. According to LiveScience, images showing examples of the condition — such as lotus seed pods — regularly go viral. This isn’t even the first time that Apple has caused a discussion about trypophobia: the Apple Watch and iPhone 5c case prompted similar tweets back in 2015 and 2013.
Trypophobes even have an unofficial celeb spokesperson: Kendall Jenner. In 2016, she wrote on her app, “Anyone who knows me knows that I have really bad trypophobia. Trypophobics are afraid of tiny little holes that are in weird patterns. Things that could set me off are pancakes, honeycomb, or lotus heads (the worst!). It sounds ridiculous but so many people actually have it! I can't even look at little holes — it gives me the worst anxiety. Who knows what's in there???”
In this case, it’s just a camera lens — although tryphophobes may have a hard time telling themselves that.