How Reddit is making you afraid of cantaloupes

Trypophobia — a fear that isn't, technically, a disorder, but is, most likely, a brilliant example of how easy it is to be influenced by the power of suggestion. This piece by NPR's Michaeleen Doucleff has me trying to remember what (if anything) I thought about the word "moist" before I first heard that it was a word most people found to be disgusting.


  1. As for me, I despised cantaloupe long before reddit even existed. It also had nothing to do with what goes on with its seeds.. I just can’t stand the texture of it. 

    Doesn’t help that it has almost no flavor to it either.

    1. Agreed.  But for me they taste very bitter or green (not like unripe, but like that other green note…?)

    2. I love most melons, but cantaloupe has a nasty undertaste.  It’s probably one of those things that some people can taste and others can’t.

        1. It tastes vaguely like the bottom of the laundry hamper to me. It’s not exactly repulsive, but it’s certainly not appealing.

        2. I’m not sure it is an issue of *tasting* bitterness but of enjoying it. I *like* bitter things. I drink my coffee strong and black, and my favorite beers are the Southern Californian IPAs, which crank up the hops even relative to other IPAs. And yes, I like cantaloupe — compared to other melons, like watermelons, it actually has some flavor other than just sugar.

          1. Try Galia melon.  They have a sort of sour armpit smell from the outside, but when you open they up, they taste like perfume.  I’m not keen on watermelon either, mostly due to its weird styrofoam texture.

    3.  I thought the same thing before I grew my own one summer (to make my wife happy). I was amazed at the difference between the hard, crunchy, flavorless grocery-store variety and a cantaloupe grown organically in my own back yard and picked at the moment of perfect ripeness. They are very different things. The home-grown fruit was soft, sweet, juicy, and full of flavor.

  2. First I heard of people having issues with that word was the television series Dead Like Me; at that point, I attributed it to one of the character’s neuroses (Dead Like Me had a lot of really messed up characters).

    1.  That was my first thought when I saw this.
      “Who had the nerve to call you Joy”

      One of my favorite TV series. And worst followup movies.

        1. Dead Like Me: Life After Death (Video 2009)

          It didn’t have Rube (Mandy Patinkin) and had someone else playing Daisy (Sarah Wynter instead of the wonderful Laura Harris) and just generally lost the whole family and growth feeling of the series.

          The only storyline that saved the movie from total dreck (to me) was an older Reggie learning about and coming to terms with George still being around.

  3. The lotus seed pod does absolutely nothing for me. I feel no disgust or revulsion or anything whatsoever, even though I was primed to do so. It just has no effect on me. Which makes me think that maybe people do have some kind of innate phobia.

  4. I realized there was a lot of bullshit around trypophobia when I read some “you might have trypophobia if you react badly to these images!” site, and half of it was shit that would make anyone with a soul react badly. Hideous skin conditions, photoshops of what looked like insect hives burrowed into human flesh.

    I think there’s a lot of people who initially just find lotus pods and such vaguely unsettling if they focus on them, like I do, and then masochistically seek out the grossest images possible until they’ve sensitized themselves into horror-movie reactions.

    1. I love the community pages for this nonsense.  “Hey, I think I might have trypophobia, because I was triggered by this: [insert picture]”.  “Oh man, this picture made me puke with fear!  Let me show it to you fellow sufferers.”  Uh, sure, that seems like a legitimate reaction to a phobia.

  5. Reddit is turning into a internet echo chamber of epic proportions. If you do not toe the party line of whatever subreddit you’re reading, there is hell to pay…

  6. The only time I had a trypophobia-liek reaction was the first time I saw a photoshopped lotus-pod-superimposed-on-human-skin photo. Even the frog that births its young through holes on its back doesn’t bother me.

  7. I’ve had the skin-crawling, goosebumps on my head reactions to holes for as long as I can remember.  It started with the holes in snow that are a result of water dripping ( like, from a roof gutter).  No one else I knew had the same skin-crawling goosebumps-on-my-head, uncomfortable feeling.   It wasn’t until I was in my 30s that I found other people like me on the internet.  A true person with trypophobia will NOT google the word because it brings up unbearable images.  It’s not a fear but a really really uncomfortable visceral reaction.  I try not to think about it as it can generalize (like now to cantalopes, I’ll try to put that out of my head) but I wanted to get the word out that this is a real thing for some people and not simply the power of suggestion.

    1. Have this reaction to very particular scraping/scrubbing noises, especially other people brushing their teeth. Brushing my own teeth is fine, but that sounds different. I had multiple waves of goosebumps just typing this comment.

    2. I got that a lot too, I found I got a lot of symptoms similar to vertigo, but also with goosebumps and itchy skin. I’d react to things like crumpets, holes in snow, lotus pods, those frogs with their young on their backs etc. Most of these are on the internet under trypophobia anyway, but I knew about them anyway before I knew that trypophobia was a thing. I did like crumpets enough to eat them, but with anything like that I’d be imagining that my skin would just break away into small holes and either get infected or have insects/worms coming out of it. When I was really young just thinking about it would be enough to make me want to scratch my arm until it was red. Like you, I never knew anyone else who was like that, and it was only after telling someone and getting ridiculed for it one too many times that I tried googling the symptoms. In the end looking at those images online and rationalising my fear was enough to reduce it to a general discomfort rather than something that really bothered me. I’m not sure how I would have reacted to the knowledge of eyelash mites a few years ago, but now it doesn’t bother me that much.

      Incidentally, the photoshopped images don’t bug me as much as the actual images. It must be partly because the photoshopping is often so bad, but also because my imagination is quite able to fill in the gaps (or produce them, in this case).

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