Food for Thought – March 23rd, 2017
Leigh Currey Merrifield, Editor
Okay, maybe you’re more in tune with what’s going on in the world than I am, but this was “news” to me! Have you heard of nomophobia? Translated, it is NOT a Southern way of saying ‘no more (no-mo) fears’. The term ‘nomo’ is an abbreviation for ‘no mobile’ (phone) and it means fear of losing mobile phone contact. Yep, now I’ve heard it ALL! It seems incomprehensible to me that anyone would become so stressed out over losing mobile contact, but apparently it has become fairly common. Imagine that!!??
Oh, yes, there have been studies done on this phobia, and these studies show a growing dependency on being able to maintain mobile phone contact with people 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Most commonly, nomophobes, the study reveals, are younger people between the ages of 18 and 34, but it can affect all ages. And, in the last several years, there has been an increase in its prevalence from 50% to 66%. Mental health experts say that anxiety can build up to a very dramatic level, often causing physical side effects such as panic attacks, shortness of breath, dizziness, trembling, sweating, accelerated heart rate, chest pain and nausea. These symptoms may be triggered when you’re out of your service range, if you’ve misplaced your cell phone, and yes, even if your battery needs charged. WOW!
Wait – it gets even better! At this point, there is no medication to cure this; however support groups for nomophobia do exist (if these folks are willing to admit they have a problem) and sometimes therapy is recommended to help nomophobes learn coping methods! Now, if these symptoms sound like they pertain to you, you need to begin by taking baby steps and, let’s say, try going to the dinner table without your cell phone.
Gee, this information makes me feel so old and kind of out of focus with the world! I was genuinely overwhelmed by what I read! Being a compassionate person, I would hate to minimize the whole panic experience that these folks must feel, but I must admit that my reaction was kind of a mix between disbelief and amusement at first. But of course, I certainly don’t fully understand this whole cell phone dependency thing because I don’t even come close to it. Yes, I do own a cell phone; however, only a limited number of people have my cell phone number … and the reason I even own one is so that I could be reached just in case I’m away from home or work and needed in the event of an emergency. And this is just a sidebar because my whole reason for ‘going mobile’ at all was to feel a little safer if I happened to be on the road alone and needed help. But I can certainly live without it. If I had a dollar for every time my son has told me that my ‘cell phone is of no use if I don’t turn it on’, I would be a rich woman!
Perhaps for those who don’t have a land line and rely only on a mobile connection, I can understand their attachment a little better. But I am totally amazed at the number of people who have their cell phone ‘attached to their hip’ so to speak at all times, and talk, text or check their e-mail constantly – while doing their grocery shopping, and even in restaurants and in the workplace, etc. No wonder it is now against the law to text while driving! I guess in a sense it is an addiction/obsession! I wonder how I ever managed when I was growing up and in my younger adulthood without one … but I seem to have managed quite well! Of course, I suppose each generation has its own addiction of some sort.
One mental health expert says he worries that all the multi-tasking kids do – sending texts and making phone calls while doing other things – might hold them back from wanting to have a face-to-face conversation with other people. I hate to tell him, but I’m pretty sure we have already reached that point!
There is a lot of truth in the saying that ‘most things are best in moderation’. While it may be convenient at times to ‘reach out and touch someone’ via a text, I still prefer to ‘reach out’ and hear a voice – or better yet – have a face-to-face conversation! Perhaps my feelings just clarify that I’m old, but I won’t be having any separation anxiety without a mobile device. In fact, I rather enjoy the quiet with no phone ringing or vibrating to disturb my privacy. Unless it is an emergency, most of this constant connection is unnecessary and could easily wait. I guess I’m not only old; I’m also immobile!
This week’s dessert: “Look at the world and think about a catastrophic disaster where the cell phone towers went dead. How would you ever be able to text your next door neighbor to see if they were okay?!” ~ Stanley Victor Paskavich