nomophobia — as in no– mo(bile) phone-phobia—— that rush of anxiety and fear when you realise you are disconnected- out of the loop with friends, family, work and the world.
Work and play no longer exists in a separate realm of space and time. The problem of the smartphone’s ubiquity is not a principled objection but a practical one. The common dystopian argument of smartphone addiction and the hyper connectivity that comes with it is that people are addicted to their phones to the detriment of their family and friends.
Many of us have seen the funny YouTube videos of a person entering a shopping mall fountain or even a clear glass entrance because they were so engrossed with their phones. From all the ‘funny’ YouTube videos, it appears that ‘distracted walking’ has become an opportunity for internet-goers to savour some good quality slapstick comedy. However as a self confessed iPhone addict I wholeheartedly reject these arguments that we are becoming less connected, less involved with the world around us and have become dangerously consumed by what is on our tiny screens. These hilarious clips we see on Youtube or the bizarre mishaps reported on the news as a result of smartphone ‘addiction’ are the exception- not the rule.
Ordinary smartphone users are able to mediate their technology usage dependent on space and place in order to modify the impact of the media. If I was on a train platform, for example, I wouldn’t be walking along staring at my screen: even though I could be checking the train timetable, before transferring money to buy the ticket, while texting my friend to let her know what time I’ll be there as I take a photo of the scabby pigeon, upload it onto Facebook, then Instagram, then tweet about my day – it would be insanely stupid. People are only consumed by the media so much as they let it. It’s not the media that is impacting our behaviour – its our behaviour that impacts the media.
A dystopic view of the media such as described in Dr Dale Archers article ‘Smartphone Addiction’ published in the Psychology Today focuses on the negativities of the technology once it has infiltrated once deemed private or personal matters, Archer even goes as far to use the example that 12% of users in a recent study admitted to using their smart phone while in the shower (how!?). However when used appropriately, in the right context, and by that I mean not at the dinner table, not in the middle of conversation, not in the middle of class, in the middle of sex, not while driving, not while in the shower – smartphones are the most useful technology we have to date and we would be lost without them. Does that last sentence make me a nomophobe?
Archer, D 2013. Smartphone Addiction. [online] Available at: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/reading-between-the-headlines/201307/smartphone-addiction [Accessed: 29 Aug 2013].