Gone are the days when people used to wake up in the morning due to the monotonous buzzing of the alarm clock and went out looking for the morning newspaper. No more sticky notes or reminders on the bedroom walls or refrigerator’s door. All these functions and many more are performed by one single little wonder of technology – our mobile phone.
It plays our favorite songs, and tunes them to wake us up in the morning. It fetches the daily news for us and even reminds us of the important events as well as our to-do list for the day. That’s not all, our mobiles; especially smartphones have so many other functions that include communication, multimedia, internet, entertainment, etc. This has made them a part and parcel of life of millions of people, especially youngsters, all over the world.
But making something a part of our daily life cannot let us stay aloof from its influence on us. As a result, today 66% of the world’s and 45% of Indian population is suffering from what some call – Nomophobia.
Nomophobia, short for “NO-MObile-phone phobia,” is the fear of losing your mobile phone.
Some common symptoms of this phobia are:
–Inability to turn off the cell phone
–Obsessively checking for texts, missed calls, emails, etc.
–Fear of losing reception, running out of battery and losing sight of the phone.
Height of obsession: A survey tells that we check our phones about 34 times in a day and often carry it to the loo with us!
People claim to have panic attacks when they are away from their phones and thus, more than 41% of the people claim to carry more than one phone with them. Last year, The Chicago Tribune reported on a survey from a mobile app company and revealed that more than 40% of iPhone owners would rather give up brushing for a week than to go without their handsets. Some young Nomophobes cannot resist the separation during their sleep as well and end up carrying their mobiles to bed, replacing the good old teddies.
Apart from this fetish, there is a psychological need to ‘show-off ‘ which has blurred the very purpose of mobile phones, i.e. staying connected. It’s a craze to buy the latest smart phones in the market. For instance, a friend of mine, who already has an iPhone 4, is saving his pocket money to buy an iPhone 5 and if he gets his hands on it, he’ll undoubtedly be “Mr. Popular.”
Just for the sake to fly high, teenagers now resort to Blackberry or Communicators, which being an office phone, serves no purpose to them. Book is now no more a student’s best friend, instead it’s his/her mobile phone, but it has its own demands and complains and is often very disturbing. But the youth have become so dependent on them that they feel handicapped without it.
This bizarre shift of interest of GenX was studied by David Greenfield, an expert on internet related behavior, and his findings, which he summed up in just a couple of lines, were:
“Constant use of tech-devices produces chemical responses in the body similar to gambling or drug addiction.”
So, if Drug is to kill then Mobile is to bill.
Another trend being followed these days is of ‘social networking’. You stand nowhere in your social circle if you don’t login to social networking sites on a regular basis. I doubt if any such person exists today!
Social Networking sites are a boon since they give us the opportunity to communicate and share thoughts, photos, videos, recent news, top stories and daily minutia with our friends and loved ones. It’s an easy way to reconnect with long lost friends whom we haven’t seen in years and the moment we find them on Facebook, we feel like saying “Long live Facebook!”
This was all about the pros, but there stands a long list of cons too and the biggest of them is the sites being highly addictive. Once you become habitual, you don’t even notice how time flies by and you spend hours surfing on these sites. On an average, youngsters, and especially students, spend 12-20 hours a week on the undisputed king of social networking – Facebook. It has become such an important part of daily routine that people frequently post updates like — ‘Woke up just now!’ , ‘Feeling hungry :(‘ , ‘Studying right now,’ ‘Feeling sleepy,’ etc.. as their status.
And some interesting ones, such as: “Had a terrible experience today…..Now don’t ask what was that…!!!”
While for the addiction, sky is indeed the limit. Here are a couple of interesting examples:
–A girlfriend dumped his boyfriend just because he did not change his ‘relationship status’ from ‘single’ to ‘committed’ on Facebook.
–A woman divorced her husband because he liked a photo of his childhood friend, which his wife envies.
Apart from all this, it seems that many types of social interactions, which would present great challenges in the real world for certain types of ‘not so frank’ individuals, have been rendered much easier for them in this virtual world of internet. It might help them gain friends on the net, but no Facebook-ing for a few days makes them realize that they have got no real friends. And one of the worst consequences of social networking is that it consumes a lot more time than what it was intended to be. It is distracting as well, and spending late night hours on Facebook affects the academic performance of students in school. And when it comes to accepting one’s parent’s friend requests, it’s a big NO.
It has been aptly said that “The richer we become materially, the poorer we have become morally.”
The addictions of gadgets and social networking have led us to lose our morals as well as increased the generation gap. Often we nag our elders while we are disturbed during a phone call, or more often, during an online gaming event. Getting up abruptly from the dinner table or getting distracted while in a conversation to attend to calls have increased exponentially these days.
A mother confesses that she has virtually lost all contacts with her son, who, ironically lives with her. When he passes her, “Hi mom” is just what he says and to have real conversation with him, she either has to wait when he is free from his facebook friends, or in some cases, rather text him.
Technological developments are meant for our benefit but only if we use them wisely. Karl Marx has rightly said, “Production of too many useful things results in too many useless people.”
Mobile phones and social networking sites are indeed very useful but excessive use of a boon can turn it into a bane. So use the facility wisely to an extent that it benefits you and doesn’t influence or affect your individuality.
[Views expressed herein are the author’s own.]
[Shifa Shamsi (class of 2016) is a student in the Bachelor of Technology in Electronics and Communication program. She can be reached via email at: shifa_shamsi[at]yahoo.com]