Know that feeling of anxiety when you can’t find your phone?
My name is Nadine and I am a nomophobe.
In case you were wondering, a nomophobe is someone who is afraid of being without their smartphone.
Now, before you go ahead and pity me, take a moment to think about your own potential nomophobia. What is the first thing you do in the morning? Do you check your phone? What is the last thing you do before you go to bed? I thought so.
The term ‘nomophobia’, which is an abbreviation for ‘no-mobile-phone phobia’ has only been around for five years but seems more relevant than ever. Our smartphones have become vital to the way we live. Being able to call someone might have been a phone’s primary function ten years ago, but nowadays we expect so much more from them.
Think about all the things a smartphone has replaced: your mp3 player, diary, camera, address book, GPS, map, and most parts of your laptop. These are just a few of the things you use on a regular basis. But more important than that, smartphones are our way of communicating with the world, whether it’s via text message, email or social media.
Losing, breaking, or having our smartphone stolen would therefore mean losing all of the above. That’s a pretty big loss. No wonder I am nomophobic. However, I am also irrationally mindful to take my smartphone with me everywhere I go. Sometimes I even find myself holding it in my hand when going to the bathroom. There is no real reason to do this, but the thought of missing a call or seeing a message late makes me nervous.
It’s crazy, but I know I am not alone in this. A study by Gallup found that 81 per cent of smartphone users keep their phones near them “almost all the time during waking hours” and 52 per cent check it a few times per hour. Why have we become so attached to a technological device? The short answer is FOMO.
Smartphones connect us not only with our friends and family, but with the entire world. Within seconds, we can check the news to see what’s happening in other countries, scroll through our Instagram feed to see what our friends are up to, and make plans for drinks after work by quickly sending a text. Without our phone, it would be much harder, in fact it would be too hard, which is why we would miss out.
While all of this makes sense, it is fascinating and scary at the same time how we have gone from a life without mobile devices to being utterly dependent on them within 20 short years. It might sound like a long time, but really isn’t considering we lived without computers for thousands of years and were absolutely fine and probably a whole lot less stressed. Many would even argue we were more reliable without them too.
I sincerely hope that our obsession with being connected won’t get any worse, but it wouldn’t surprise me if someday soon, we’re walking around with implanted microchips replacing all of our devices. At least we then we won’t have to fear losing them.
In case you’re not sure you’re a nomophobe (hint: if you’re reading this on your smartphone, you probably are), there’s a quick test that will tell you. I wasn’t surprised at all about my result:
“Oh-Oh, the diagnosis isn’t good. It looks as if you are an out-and-out, full-blown nomophobe. And we mean dotty, Mel-tastic, bat-sh*t crazy about the little device in your hand right now. You are the Mel Gibson, the Naomi Campbell, the Tom Cruise of the nomophobic world!
Symptoms: You look at your phone about every 2 minutes for new messages that you know just aren’t there”
Alright, maybe it’s time for a tech-detox *takes out her phone to Google the best way to do this*.
Comment: What’s the longest you’ve been able to go without your phone without feeling anxious?