I was sitting in a clinic to report a little cough to the doctor and I realized I had to wait. ‘Okay with me,’ I thought. I am a writer and all those stories I knit come from observing people around me, every chance I get. So I had my eyes keenly looking at a doting mother, more scared than her kid with the prognosis, the clinic attendants, the busy yet bored receptionist – well, the list is long.
Absent-mindedly, I went back to my phone reading my previous Whatsapp conversations, some of which had been left incomplete because I had to go to bed the previous night. How I wished I could see what people had replied to some of my ‘very witty’ comments. I turned the WiFi on and voila! The clinic had an unsecured internet connection! The so-hyped, aforementioned ‘social observation’ was now down the drain with me frantically going through the many unread messages and replying to them suitably.
Maybe what technology
has done to us is brilliant. It’s brought people closer together. Sitting in my boring waiting room, with no interaction with anyone at all, I had a chance to reconnect with a friend sitting miles away. But that’s where the catch is! What about the new associations? What about being sensitive to people of all kinds; people who you’ll never be friends with since they are different yet a chance to know them so closely? What about seeing beauty – not in edited, light-adjusted photographs but in real, where there’s a girl with pimples you’ll out rightly reject from your friend list but who when talks, you realize is way smarter than any of your debater friends?Personal computers were fine, with internet or whatever. They didn’t interrupt your dinner dates. Then the laptops came. But it’s fortunately still rude to pop up the little computer on your lap and start chatting in the middle of a meeting. But how can one stay ‘disconnected’ at any cost? Lo and behold! What just got you unrestricted access to your pals’ lives 24×7? Your phone! And so more important than that man who just bought you a drink is your phone. At least it stays! And you can change it without it creating a fuss.Yet, all this is still pretty normal. It becomes bigger when you start stalking your phone rather than just talking on it. It becomes a serious issue when you fall crazily in love with the damn thing. It becomes problematic when you have Nomophobia.It’s an acronym picked up from No-Mobile-phone phobia, Nomophobia was coined during a research study done in the UK which found that nearly 53% of the citizens become anxious when they lose mobile phone contact. This could be due to a drained out battery, low network coverage, low balance or simply losing your mobile phone.
We all use excuses. When asked why they couldn’t rationally switch off their phones for a while or stop attending to calls, they cited ‘work reasons’ or ‘being in touch with friends and family’. A national daily in India also reported about how people were scared of missing out on unknown callers that could be important.
The stress levels of nomophobia were compared by the study to ‘wedding jitters’ or ‘visiting the dentist’. Yes, the usual waking-up-to-see-your-messages jokes one cracks on Facebook are this serious. While many suggest that the use of the word ‘phobia’ is incorrect as per psychological jargon since it is just normal anxiety in most of the cases and not a disorder so to say, some say it shouldn’t be termed as a ‘phobia’ since it is not an irrational fear, rather its quite understandable.
Nevertheless, it is time we stopped being so obsessed with our phones. People have remained in touch and safely travelled even in the era of letters. Moreover, being in touch round the clock can become irritating after a while. It takes away the anticipation of the moment.