iPhone 11 Pro allegedly triggers an unusual phobia

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Lotus seed holes
Forget Bendgate and Antennagate! There's a new "-gate" in town!
Photo: Alien Pods

Does the above picture of a lotus seed pod freak you out? If so, there’s a chance you suffer from trypophobia, the fear of small holes in certain configurations.

You know what else apparently could trigger your trypophobia? The new iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Plus with its cluster of three lenses. And according to the doctor who published the first study of the phobia in 2013, that’s totally plausible.

Check out the freaky lens setup on the iPhone 11 Pro that supposedly causes trypophobia
Check out the freaky lens setup.
Photo: Apple

“It could well cause trypophobia,” Geoff Cole, a psychology lecturer at the U.K.’s University of Essex, told Metro newspaper. “The camera has the critical features necessary to cause a response because it’s made up of a cluster of holes. Anything can induce trypophobia, as long as it has this pattern.It could be anything from aerated chocolate, lotus seed pods or even the brake lights on a Peugeot 206.”

Is iPhone 11 trypophobia legit?

A look on social media suggests that some users are already experiencing the effects. Of course, social media being, well, social media, it’s not clear how many people are actually freaked out by the new iPhones. It’s not just the iPhone, either. Some people reported similar reactions to the Mac Pro’s cheese-grater design.

The weird phobia made headlines in 2017, when TV series American Horror Story: Cult featured a character who suffered from trypophobia. Exposure to a stylized ad promoting the show caused one person to suffer a “full-blown panic attack,” CNN reported at the time.

As Cole told Metro, while the mathematical pattern of the iPhone 11 lenses matches up to requirements, not every trypophobia sufferer is going to be spooked in equal measure. “I think everyone is a bit sensitive,” he said.

The iPhone 11 Pro design — with its prominent, three-camera array — became instantly iconic after Apple showcased it during this week’s “By Innovation Only” event. The new design triggered meme after meme, with people seeing everything from stovetops to Pokémon in that big camera bump. Most people saw it as comic relief rather than a trigger likely to give people the shakes.

What causes trypophobia?

Cole stands by trypophobia being an actual fear, though.

“There is a lot of skepticism and people say it’s just a successful internet meme, rather than a real phobia,” Cole said. “People look at it as a bit of a joke and think people caught trypophobia through a meme. But that’s the same for most phobias. People are not born fearful of rats, spiders or cockroaches, but might see their mother or father’s fear whilst they are a developing child and effectively catch the phobia.

“Take cockroaches, for instance. Many people who are scared of them have not had a bad experience. They’ve picked it up from society and weren’t born to dislike them. If trypophobia is a good internet meme – then the fear of cockroaches is a good society meme.”

One theory presented in the 2013 paper (.pdf) is that many dangerous animals, such as alligators, crocodiles and snakes, have configurations of bumps and holes on their skin. As a result, trypophobia could be a weird byproduct of evolution.