A cure for arachnophobia? On your phone?

You may have noticed that I abstain from showing photos of spiders here, because when I do I get so many piteous complaints from people who are grossed out and terrified by innocent little spiders. And here I was working with my lovely crop of over a hundred babies yesterday!

I don’t know if it really works, but there’s an augmented reality app called Phobys that you can download that uses your phone’s camera to generate images of cute little spiders in familiar places, using exposure therapy to help you adjust. I downloaded it to see — screenshot below the fold — and the “test” to see if you’re arachnophobic is free. I’m not. The “training” module to get increasing exposure levels is $5, and I didn’t pay for it. I can find real spiders anywhere, so I don’t need virtual ones.

Also, though, I’m not worried about it. It’s not like the COVID-19 vaccine — no one dies of arachnophobia, and you can even live a perfectly normal life with it, unless it’s a pathologically extreme case.

You’re just missing out on some of the beauty and wonder in the world.


  1. eliza422 says

    I had a little guy walk across the kitchen floor last night while I was pressing quilt blocks – he knew the rules – don’t touch me and we’ll get along fine.

  2. birgerjohansson says

    Isn’t Shelob one of the Mayar from Valinor? The images might count as religious iconography, allowing the company who makes them to be tax-free.

  3. robert79 says

    “don’t touch me and we’ll get along fine”

    While I wouldn’t classify myself as an arachnophobic, I do have a few other rules for the spiders:
    – if you’re in the bathtub, sink or toilet while i’m using it, you’re going to get flushed
    – don’t sit on my computer screen, i’ll swipe you away

    and especially for the bigger spiders:
    – don’t be hanging right in front of my face just as I wake up
    – don’t be sitting on the shower curtain in such a way to be right in front of my face when I take my shower
    break those rules and you’re going to get screamed at and probably swatted/flushed down the drain. And yes, this has happened…

    Aside from that, i’m very happy at their (fruitless) efforts to keep the mosquito population at bay.

  4. robro says

    I had a bit of a discussion with a fellow that insisted arachnophobia is “innate” to humans. All I could say was humans probably learned to be cautious, but “phobic”…I think not.

  5. ionopachys says

    @ birgerjohansson

    I get to earn my nerd nerd now. No, Shelob was a descendant of Ungoliant, who was some sort of eldritch being from the darkness beyond Arda. Even the Valar didn’t know what she was. She seemed to be some sort of incarnation of darkness and emptiness, for her hunger was unending, and she eventually ate herself.

    Out of universe, she was like Bombadil, a mystery that Tolkien had no answer for. Maybe he would have given a more definite nature if he had ever finalized his mythology, but he didn’t, so all we have now is his son’s effort to turn mountains of outlines and rough notes and story fragments into something coherent.

  6. Trickster Goddess says

    Last night there were two spiders of apparently the species hanging out just 6 inches apart in the corner of my living room ceiling. Might there be some spider babies in my future? The day before I was treated to the sight of a wolf spider loping across the floor.

  7. Tethys says

    Is that supposed to be a cute spider? The little salticus type are adorable, but the wolf spiders are more creepy with their large fangs and all those long legs. I’m not at all phobic as long as they aren’t ON me, and I do vacuum away the yearly crop of spiderlings and their webs with little remorse.

  8. birgerjohansson says

    Ionopachys @ 6
    I learn something new every day.
    So Ungoliant was weirder than the origin of balrogs?

  9. wzrd1 says

    Pholcus phalangioides web in the corner on my side of the bed at the head. Got to watch two wrestling a bit one evening (pretty sure it wasn’t a mating attempt), likely over such prime real estate. Free entertainment.
    I’ve no clue how, but maggots and the resultant flies plagued us for a bit a few months ago, turned out that they somehow got into a partial dozen eggs I had left out (easier to beat at room temperature and we go through them before they can spoil), those spiders earned their keep.