• Do You Have Nomophobia?

    By: Carol Maxym, PhD.

    Nomophobia is the fear of being without a mobile phone because you left at home, lost it, misplaced it, or simply forgot to charge it.

    As a psychologist with over 25 years of experience in therapeutic placement and substance abuse treatment, I know that kids who go into wilderness treatment and have no access to electronics tend to calm down, become more lucid, and are better able to focus. Their relationships improve and they become better at building new ones.

    Is Multitasking How We Assess Our Performance? 

    Multitasking and Nomphobia


    Today, using your phone almost inherently implies multitasking. Whether texting or reading emails while talking, walking and talking, shopping and talking, texting and commuting, we seem to feel better about our performance when we’re doing a lot of things- even better when we’re doing a lot of things at once. Mobile phones gives us that opportunity.

    Searching for a Moment of Pseudo Solitude

    If you’ve even been in an elevator, you’ll notice that most people will be looking at their phones: reading emails, playing Candy Crush, texting, searching, and catching up on Social Media. Are these people avoiding the possibility of an uncomfortable elevator conversation or actually doing something?

    Is being on your phone a way to have a moment of pseudo solitude? You’re probably wondering what the people around you may be thinking:

    • If people see me on my phone, they won’t talk to me.
    • If people see me on my phone, they will think I am popular because I have so many friends texting and emailing me.
    • If people see me on my phone, they assume I am busy on Twitter, Instagram, etc. and think that I’m cool.

    Kids, for instance, often ground their identity on the type of phone they have. There’s an unspoken competition to get the latest iPhone, the hottest Samsung, or the newest LG- and adults are not immune for the most part either.

    What actually happens if you don’t have your phone for a day?

    Nomphobia: No Phones

    • You probably don’t know a lot of phone numbers by heart (who does anymore?)
    • You may not know where you are supposed to be or who you’re supposed to meet.
    • You won’t know what to expect from the weather for the next 8 or so hours.
    • You can’t check in for a flight.
    • You can’t check to see if your son’s, daughter’s, husband’s, etc. flight home is on time.
    • You can’t watch a movie  or a video clip if you get bored.
    • You must watch your child’s football game instead of filming it. .        
    • You get to notice the world not mediated by a phone and the noise of social
    • media.


    Is Nomophobia Real?

    Nomophobia Anxiety


    Nomophobia is another one of the multitude of made up disorders that can be used as excuses. It’s a pseudo explanation that excuses behavior, rudeness, or a lack of courtesy. Perhaps, there’s already someone at Big Pharma experimenting with a “medication” for this made up disorder. Or, maybe you’re worried that someone who is trying to reach you is thinking something bad has happened to you if you don’t immediately respond. So much of this is anxiety, but there was a time before mobile phones when people seemed to manage just fine.

    If you’re worried that you forget your phone or lost it, just remember that there are a lot of worse things than being phoneless such as:

    • Having cancer or a serious illness.
    • Being a refugee.
    • Being homeless.
    • Losing someone you love.
    • Saying something really mean to a stranger, a friend, or a family member.
    • Forgetting to help a mother up the subway stairs as she struggles with her
    • baby in the stroller.
    • Having someone rear-end you because he/she was texting while driving.
    • Missing a beautiful sunset because you were too busy looking at your phone.
    • Not hearing beautiful music because you were texting.
    • Forgetting wonderful words like gloaming because they’re not in autocorrect.
    • Not paying full attention to someone you love who is talking to you
    • Becoming too reliant on autocorrect.
    • Missing the lived experience of your child’s recital because you are so busy filming it on your phone.

    Imagine a day where everyone left his or her phone at home (on purpose).   

    Could we even function as a nation?

    What would be some of the benefits?

    • It would be nice to be in a public place where no one is talking on his or her phone.
    • Less selfies and vines.
    • A chance to socialize with people in a real and meaningful way.
    • Noticing the things you take for granted each day.

    Sure, being on your phone can make you feel productive and even important, but it’s no substitute for participating in the world around you. And, if you look up articles about nomophobia, you’ll probably come across the published by Scientific American magazine; unfortunately, the author isn’t particularly educated on this issues.

    It makes you wonder, who’s behind this new phenomenon? Apple or Android- afraid that they can’t sell enough phones? Their competitors?

    Phones are increasingly replacing memory. Is that something we like and plan to stick with?  Could you leave your phone at home for a week? 

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