I decided to write this post after a confluence of events, of which Al Jazeera’s news item on nomophobia was decisive.
a pathological fear or dread of not having one’s mobile phone
Now, this is both sad but true for, at least, myself; and, given the fact that it is in Webster’s Dictionary, apparently more people suffer from this unpleasant dependence.
My awareness was raised recently, when a friend decided to remove her Facebook account, punishing herself for the obsessive habit of browsing Facebook when not having to do anything at work for 2 minutes — she felt it as the worst form of procrastination. I congratulated her for her willpower, but noticed her continuously jumping to her phone when she received a (internet-based) message on her phone, while we were having a drink. (Not sure she is really cured)
To prove a point, here is a paragraph from an article from The National, on nomophobia:
According to research from the United Kingdom-based mobile phone security company SecurEnvoy, 77 per cent of 18-24-year-olds suffer from nomophobia. The study showed that people on average check their phone 34 times a day, and 75 per cent take the phone to the bathroom. SecurEnvoy’s first study, conducted four years ago, revealed that 53 per cent of people suffered from nomophobia. Earlier research in the United States among smartphone users in their late teens and twenties revealed that smartphones and iPads produce roughly the same withdrawal symptoms as addictive drugs such as heroin
In my opinion a smartphone is simply the most mobile of the tools we have to ease our obsessive hunger for knowing everything about everybody/thing we ‘care’ about as quickly as possible. While extremely useful, it is a conversation killer and a great way to overload yourself. You lose the sense of what you want to do when and how.
I am frustrated about my own urge to check Facebook, as if waiting for something. At the same time, it is an excellent way to stay in touch with your friends around the world – the main reason I use it.
A different news item I happened to watch on the television, discussed the innovative use of tablet PCs on some elementary/lower schools in the Netherlands. The teachers were praising the more interactive way to educate, while the kids thought it was much more fun than the traditional way of education, with books and all that crap. But won’t these youngsters get lost in the excessive amounts of information fed, or at least directly available, to them? Of course there are plenty who will learn a lot because they can, but many might do even less than they are already doing, because they will play games or read useful things, which is what youngsters are very prone to do.
The item closed with the teacher taking away the tablet for the rest of the day from one of the kids, because he was playing with it while the teaching was talking. But, if these tablets are a substitute to books, won’t taking away the tablet mean that the kid will not be able to learn without it?
Many people are not aware how quickly technology is developing, with all its unforeseeable consequences. I am pessimistic, even fearful, about the unhealthy consequences the pace of technology is taking.