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Are you a Tech-Addict?

Well, maybe not an iBody, I would prefer to be an AndrBody.

Remember those anti-drug commercials a few years ago that had a woman talking nicely into the camera and then pans out and cracks eggs into a hot pan and the yolk and white stuff goes everywhere and things start frying and spattering around? That was your brain on drugs.

Your brain looks a little different now due to another influence that has taken over your life, your smartphone. Or as Cord Jefferson from Gizmodo would say, your “GD Smartphone”.

We’ve all been there… you start feeling yourself up looking for your phone because you “felt” or “heard” something, and you reach for your phone. But alas, nothing is on your screen. At that moment no one had any urge to call, text, Tweet, Snapchat, Facebook, GroupMe, email, or Color you. Now that disappointment from not having any new notifications is replaced with a realization that you’re crazy. Maybe your brain would be better as breakfast. What you have experienced was Phantom Vibration Syndrome.

What does this mean?! What have our smartphones and our reliance on technology done to us physically?

Let’s start with what Phantom Vibration Syndrome (PVS) is.

PVS is a real medical phenomenon caused by ringing or vibrating cell phones. It is sometimes caused “ringxiety”. This “syndrome” has become so rampant in the First World that it was Australia’s Macquarie Dictionary’s 2012 Word of the Year! However, the term syndrome is indicative of something that is medically wrong with an individual.

Show us the stats, docs!

Well, there are facts and eplanations that render this to be a true syndrome. Martin Lindstrom says that your brain’s Mirror Neurons are to blame. Those are the things in your brain that are responsible for the “Monkey See-Monkey Do”. When you see someone check their phone, you will likely check your phone too. When groups of people are together, and one person starts using their phone, it’s only a matter of time before all devices are out. Lindstrom also blames not being aware of your surroundings, or the real world as he says, as a problem. That “pulsating sensation” that didn’t happen means that you are checked out of what is really going on around you.You are preoccupied with an unintentional anxiety about being connected to your device.

Another explanation is given for what else may happen with your phone to make you feel these sensations. A professor of psychology at the University of Sydney suggests that the sensation could happen when the phone connects to a new tower and releases very small electronic discharges. Another explanation is electrical activity bursts if the audible pipping of a phone is placed next to a speaker. Another thing could be that you always have it in the same area of your body and that area is used to the feeling of the vibration. If that area is stimulated in any other way, such as bumping against something, your nerve endings could register it as feeling the phone.

Is there any hope for us?!

While we have all experienced this, I find it far from a syndrome. I won’t go on my tangent about how the medical industry seems to invent disorders in order to bolster Big Pharm’s bottom line  (since when did shyness become a social disorder?!). If you are experiencing this then maybe you just need a break from your phone. A break could be even as little as 15 minutes at a time a few times a day. If the thought of parting with your phone for any amount of time makes you flinch, then you my friend, are an addict. Larry Rosen, professor of psychology at California State University says that tech addict’s “bodies are always in waiting to anticipate any kind of technological interaction, which usually comes from a smartphone.” Don’t think you can take a tech break? Well you’re not alone. According to  Online Publishing Association, 68-percent of smartphone owners now say they “can’t live without their smartphones.”

Cord Jefferson has some strong opinions how ridiculous of a claim that is: “Proclaiming that you can’t live without your iPhone isn’t just measurably wrong, it’s also kind of offensive. It’s like saying you couldn’t live without air conditioning or Breaking Bad or Christmas presents.” While we can all agree that having a smartphone is a time saver, entertainment, resource and all around organizer, at the bottom of it all, it is a luxury. Luxury, people. Luxury is not something we need in order to survive. Over two-thirds of the population would not agree though. Those two-thirds will continue to pat themselves instinctively when they think they felt something in their pocket.

Now I’m not saying going without it all is the best way, like the new show Revolution. I think we all could do with some more time detached from our phones throughout the day. We could also try to be more socially and environmentally aware when we have our cell phones on us. Try not to be on auto-pilot when in groups of people and feel the need to bring your phone out when other people do. Change the placement of your phone to different pockets so that area of your skin doesn’t set off phantom sensations.

So the next time you get asked: “Are you happy to see me or is that a smartphone in your pocket?”, hopefully you’ll be more aware of your surroundings to answer without guessing.

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3 thoughts on “Every Body is an iBody

  1. This is a great post! I used to be attached to my phone everyday all day. I am one of those people that take my phone into every room that I am in most of the time. This article gives great insight into how addicted we really our to our phones. Many days I find myself looking at my phone when I am bored. Recently I have been trying to put my phone down or just leave it upstairs all day. Not having a phone on me at all times makes me more relaxed and productive. I completely agree with the idea of taking a break from technology.

    • Thanks for the comment! I agree with not having the distractions of technology around when trying to be productive. I will silence my phone’s notifications but allow calls to go through for only a select few people. I make sure to put it out of arms reach as well.

  2. This entire post reminds me so much of the discourse between Prof Parisi and Lindstrom. Though I do not agree that the symptoms of PVS need to be considered as qualifying of a ‘syndrome’, I do feel that the psychology behind what addiction is applies to smartphone technology and how we choose to use/abuse it. A very informative post.

    P.S. – Love the visual!

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