November 17, 2012

Nomophobia? Should Be No More Phonia

Earlier this year, redOrbit reported about a study that found more and more people experience nomophobia, a fear of being without their phones. In fact, this phobia has reached people to the extent that they have multiple phones, just in case they lose one. People check their phones dozen of times a day and even sleep with their phones under their pillows and take showers with their phones. As I read the report I could not help but think “what the heck is going on?”

I am an iPhone owner. I only have the iPhone 3GS, but it is an iPhone nonetheless. I do appreciate the convenience it provides me with the calendar and notes and access to the internet. But I do not like the feeling of having to be attached and connected all of the time. For a while, I played games on it, but I have even stopped doing that because I felt like I was spending too much time on the phone, and I would only play games once a day. I actively choose to disconnect on a regular basics, which is why I felt increasingly more uncomfortable by the implications of nomophobia after reading redOrbit’s article.

If people genuinely feel so compelled to be connected that they truly have a phobia of being away from their phone, then something is amiss. I mean, to bring your phone into the shower with you is just crazy! For people who do this, when do they have private time? If they have a legitimate phobia of being disconnected and away from their phone, then they have no personal time. We need this to contemplate and comprehend our experiences. This is when we do introspective thinking to understand our lives.

Furthermore, do these individuals who suffer from nomophobia ever stop working? I mean, if they are constantly on their phones, checking their phones, or worrying about their phones, when are they thinking of something other than work? And since many people have a personal phone and a work phone, they are reachable by work in both places. Naturally, people will call both with questions, concerns, or issues. For all intents and purposes, these individuals would work at all times and be constantly logged in.

I feel really bad for the individuals who must deal with nomophobia. All phobias have the potential to be debilitating, but nomophobia seems like it could add serious stress. People would never logout or disconnect. They would always be reachable thus never have peaceful, quiet time.

To be so scared to be away from their phones that it becomes phobic really concerns me. I am uncomfortable by the prospects of people not wanting to be away from their phones. What will this do to communication, to connecting, to having in-person relationships? If these people who suffer from this condition only communicate and connect virtually or only talk through the phone, then they could and would miss out on so much of the beauty of life. They will never be able to enjoy the quiet of a moment because they would fear what they are missing. This is too sad.

I love technology and what it adds to our lives. I love that my phone has apps and tools to make my life easier. I also love to turn my phone off or go out of range or leave my phone at home and just not think about it. I love to not be constantly available. I most definitely do not suffer from nomophobia. But I do feel for those who do suffer from it. How much of the simple moments they will miss! I wish I could say that nomophobia will get better, but I suspect that with more technology and more advances, people will just become more phobic. What a sad state that will leave us.

Image Credit: HomeArt / Shutterstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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