The ills of the Digital Age

Let’s put our phones aside and enjoy the moment
The ills of the Digital Age

Since past decade, smartphone use especially among adolescents and young adults has increased exponentially and this popularisation of smartphones have led to a new dependency called nomophobia. The term Nomophobia is a short form for “no-mobile-phone phobia (“defined as the fear of being without smartphone or unable to access it”). The term was coined by the UK Post during a 2008 study commissioned by YouGov, a UK-based research organisation, to assess anxieties suffered by mobile phone users. It was found that almost 53% of mobile phone users become anxious when they “lose their mobile phone, run out of battery or credit, or have no network coverage”. The study found that 58% of men and 47% of women suffer from nomphobia and an additional 9% feel stressed when their mobile phones are off.

Timothy Jay (2019), a psychologist wrote in a post published in health line that “if you have trouble putting down your smartphone or feel anxious when you know you’ll lose service for a few hours? Or thoughts of being without phone cause distress, it’s possible you have nomophobia. The signs and symptoms found in Nomophobics in absence of phones include: anxiety, respiratory alterations, trembling, perspiration, agitation, disorientation and tachycardia. Nomophobics have the habit of being glued to the social networks all the time. They feel an urge to check their phones again and again, they don’t want to miss a single pop up. Some even experience phantom syndrome; that is they feel their phones are ringing or vibrating even when they are not. All this happen due to pre occupation with cell phone. This reduces their productivity and quality of relationships. According to psychologists nomophobia may also act as a proxy indicator to other disorders. However, it is yet to be established whether depressed and individuals with low self esteem are more likely to develop nomophobia due to their high dependence on smart phones or individuals who are addicted to smart phones develop anxiety, depression and low self esteem.

Another big menace which has emerged due to internet addiction is Phubbing. The term Phubbing is a combination of two words: “phone” and “snubbing.” The term was coined in 2012 as a part of campaign launched by Adrian Mills, the director of advertising agency Mac cann Group who invited lexicographers, authors, and poets to suggest a new word to describe the behaviour of ignoring others in favour of your mobile phone. Alex High-an intern at Mac cann came up with the word “Phubbing”. Subsequently Mac cann Group launched No phubbing campaign to raise awareness of the issue. Thus, phubbing is the act of snubbing or ignoring someone in a social situation by looking at phone instead of paying attention to them. It is not uncommon to see People glued to their phones even if other person is in mood to discuss serious issue.

This offend others and cause emotional pain. People who phub (often called “phubbers”) show following behaviours: Glance at their phones in the middle of a conversation, keep checking their phones when the conversation stalls, keep their phone close by even during in-person interactions and interrupt a real-life conversation to attend phone calls. It is important to know that Phubbers do not use their phones for making important calls or responding to emergency emails or texts. They are unmindful of cell phone etiquettes.

They keep entertaining themselves by scrolling through their social media feed, posting a selfie or photo of their meal or activity, texting other people or playing online games. Although phubbing seem like a relatively harmless thing, but it’s annoying part of modern digital life, research shows that it is detrimental to our relationships. The person who is phubbed feels that the phubber doesn’t care enough to focus and pay attention to him. Even if the phubber is posting photos of what they’re doing with the other person, their involvement with the phone distracts from real-life interaction. Thus, phubbing is one example of how technology is at war with human interaction. Emma Seppälä, a psychologist at Stanford and Yale universities and author of “the happiness tracks” says “Although phubbing connect you, presumably, with someone through social media or texting, But it actually can severely disrupt your present-moment, in-person relationships.” Anther study on phubbing found that phubbing threaten four “fundamental needs” — belongingness, self-esteem, meaningful existence and control by making phubbed people feel excluded and ostracised.”

Take Away: Phubbing happens all the time. Sometimes we phub others and at times we are phubbed. In family gatherings or a get-together with friends we spoil the quality of interaction by phubbing. It is high time that we realise the detrimental consequences of phubbing and start rejuvenating our social relations and interactions. Many times it is the root cause of conflict as our loved ones feel ignored and unwanted due to our immersion in the e-world. We should realise that not every pop up and text is that much important and we cannot do without it. Let’s act humanely with others and not become mechanical like Cyberbogs. It is said that it takes only 21 days to unlearn a habit: if only in the next few minutes we start to reduce our screen time, we would already be one-step closer towards freedom. Some of the strategies like disabling notifications for social media apps, keeping display in black and white as this reduces our phone’s ability to grab and hold our attention, keeping mobile data off when not needed, and mindful use of the technology will surely help us in overcoming Nomophobia and Phubbing.

Above all let’s start a “No phubbing campaign”. Let’s respect others and give quality time to them. Let’s try to ensure we are physically, emotionally and psychologically present with the person in interaction. Let’s make others feel valued. Let’s put our phones aside and enjoy the moment.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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