People seem to be able to fear anything. Pick an item – and chances are, there is a phobia that is designed just for that. Nomophobia – one of the latest to join the rank of human conditions – is the fear of being out of mobile phone contact. In fact, this term it is so new, neither of my spellcheckers recognizes it.
The term, an abbreviation for “no–mobile-phone phobia“, was coined during a study by the UK Post Office who commissioned YouGov, a UK-based research organization to look at anxieties suffered by mobile phone users. The study found that nearly 53% of mobile phone users in Britain tend to be anxious when they “lose their mobile phone, run out of battery or credit, or have no network coverage”. The study found that about 58% of men and 48% of women suffer from the phobia, and an additional 9% feel stressed when their mobile phones are off. The study sampled 2,163 people. 55% claimed keeping in touch with friends or family as the main reason that they got anxious when they could not use their mobile phones. The study compared stress levels induced by the average case of nomophobia to be on-par with those of “wedding day jitters” and trips to the dentists. 10% of those questioned said they needed to be within reach at all times because of work. It is, however, arguable that the word ‘phobia’ is misused and that in the majority of cases it is only a normal anxiety.
A simple poll on CNET news (as of today) showed that 27% “freak out” when they are without their phone, and 30% are not sure. 43% responded “No. The break is quite nice” to a question if they freak out if they are without the phone. Really? Almost half is OK without a phone? I respectfully disagree – given that CNET readers are not your average Moms-and-Pops who think all computers should be outlawed (as some people I know do), but a tech-savvy professionals mostly related to IT industry, I believe that the answer “No” by these folks is rather a wishful thinking. Yes, they believe a break would be nice, but if they happen to lose their phone – do they kick back, relax, and rejoice for a few days, or do they panic, and try to cut people off in traffic rushing to their nearest service provider for a replacement? I thought so… Back to reality.
More than one in two nomophobes never switch off their mobile phones. I don’t consider myself a nomophobe, and I do not give my cell phone number out to anyone, but I do rely on it for my email while out of the office – and I never switch my phone off. On purpose, anyway. What about you?