Modern telephone communication is a wonder – a boon – a time-waster and at times – a nightmare. It can also be an addiction, especially when it comes to our smart phones. In fact, it is a named anxiety disorder – Nomophobia (“no mobile phone phobia”).
I know that I feel panicked when I can’t find my phone. But it allows me to leave my office during traditional business hours and still stay connected to my clients. This is a good thing.
Years ago, before cell phones and their predecessor car phones, we all had pagers. Before that, we had no stress. OK, so we still had stress. Probably because we could never leave the office.
I remember one day – in the pre-cell phone era, I heard a very odd noise coming from what sounded like the inside of a wall in my house. Every few seconds – a repetitive “buzz buzz buzz.” I was convinced it was a gas leak, or some electrical wiring gone awry. I just knew the house was going to explode. I was panicked. I ran my hands up and down the walls trying to find the source. It went on for several minutes with my panic growing. Ultimately, I discovered my pager, under some clothing on top of a rattan dresser – which is why it wasn’t making its usual beeper sound.
Then I had a car phone – in my mind a status symbol. I felt like such a successful business person with this brick sized marvel sitting next to me. Until the day it was cloned while I was sitting in the turn lane on MacArthur Blvd in Orange County calling local auto shops after my clutch went out. That felt as though I had been betrayed by modern mobile technology.
This was in the late 80’s and since then I have had a progression of cell phones getting smarter and smarter with each waning contract and/or software update.
I couldn’t tell you exactly when I realized that leaving the house without my phone was upsetting. Probably after my first real smart phone – with Facebook and Google installed on it – and wi-fi in every coffee shop.
Lately I find that out of respect for people in public places (like my yoga class or the theater), I turn the ringer and vibrate off. And then forget to turn it on again.
This causes some anxiety – OK, a great deal of anxiety – when trying to find the phone. Since you can’t hear it when you call it, it can stay lost for a long time. Which brings on more anxiety.
I haven’t damaged my phone (knock on wood) for a long time by dropping it into the toilet or cracking the screen, but I have left it places without realizing it. I suppose I have been lucky that it has always showed up. That it wasn’t stolen, or hacked (do they still clone?) or dropped or cracked.
So, trying to not become a Nomophob, I have taken to intentionally leaving the phone at home when I am not going to be gone too long. Of course, the definition of “too long” is open for interpretation.