★ Nomophobia: The Age Of Smartphone Addiction
Zuckerberg said it all at this year’s Mobile World Congress: “Mobile is me. Mobile is everyone. Mobile is everything.” Mobile devices have revolutionized the entire world, drastically changing the way we relate to our environment and ourselves.
Since the arrival of smartphone fever somewhere around 2010, the use of mobiles has merged so completely with our daily routine that our phones are an extension of our very arms. We can’t live without them. They must be in our hands every minute, of every day.
Although initially we might assume that mobile addiction is exclusively true for the young’uns, reality tells us otherwise. Users between 35-54 years old aren’t immune from this affliction. Neither is there much difference between the genders, though studies show that women are somewhat more prone to smartphone addiction.
The “phantom vibration syndrome” from the flip phone age has morphed into the “phantom notification light syndrome.” It’s a terrible affliction when you get that sudden adrenaline rush from perceiving a flicker from the notification light, when in reality no one has deigned to talk to you nor have you received one miserable e-mail. It doesn’t stop there: we compulsively look at our mobile without being conscious of what we are doing. From the moment we wake up to just before falling asleep, checking our phone has become instinctual. It is part of our very being.
This sick addiction is also a gargantuan time waster. As we drop what we are doing to check our phone, the minutes stack up. And to make matters worse, all those little distractions imply a significant drop in our levels of concentration, causing distractions that render us incapable of effectively carrying out tasks.
The emergence of mobile addiction gives rise to new terminology: nomophobia (no-mobile-phone phobia- the fear of being without your phone). No shocker here: stress levels increase considerably when your phone runs out of battery, resulting in serious anxiety in some cases. The anxiety comes as much from feeling distanced from your personal relationships as from work-related issues.
I am sure that almost all of us identify with this. Who hasn’t suffered a minor heart attack when they find out that they forgot their phone? And if we had to choose, the majority of us would prefer to dash back home and arrive late than spend a whole torturous day asking ourselves who had tried (and failed) to contact us. What if we missed something important?
Most of the time, you don’t forget your phone at home because you have it in your hands as you walk out the door. Every moment without your smartphone is a precious moment lost reading WhatsApp notifications.
Mobile devices have become our major support system. We trust in them blindly, without thinking twice, and we believe they will never fail us. We depend on them for tasks that before we did for ourselves, tasks we don’t miss at all. And yet, the risk that this dependence brings is mammoth.
Our relationship with our phone already allows and encourages us to “disconnect” from basic routines, and we no longer worry about such trivial concepts like time or space. Who worries about arriving late if they know they can find their friends with just a quick localization? Who worries about grabbing cash if they know they can just pay with their smartphone? Who worries about memorizing birthdays if their phone reminds them?
The problem of tossing everything into one pot, the smartphone, is that it implies a progressive loss with reality, and with time, a growing disinterest with anything that requires a minimum effort on our part. We are spoiling ourselves. The mobile has turned us into spoiled brats and now we take everything for granted. We have become lazy and in some ways have reverted back to being children, delegating responsibilities and refusing to take charge of our own routines.
Don’t get me wrong: no one is insinuating that smartphones don’t make life easier. That’s not up for debate. It’s clear that smartphones are designed to help us out day to day, and the perks are more than obvious (health, education, etc). The question is: Up to what point should we depend on our mobiles? Where is the line that separates helpfulness from excessive convenience?
This piece originally appeared on appszoom