Nomophobia—Living is Not Just a Lime

Are cell phones destroying our interpersonal communication skills with those that we love?

No matter how many times addicts hear that their dependence is destroying their lives, they would still kill for a shot of booze, a cigarette, a line of heroin, or a cell phone. The fear of being apart from your cell phone is ruining your life.
The addiction of choice that is ruining the lives and economies of countless millions today is called Nomophobia, as in “No mobile phone phobia,” and 66 percent of people surveyed say they have it, up from four years ago, when 53 percent of people admitted to a fear of losing their cell phones.
Instead of being tools that should enhance our lives, cell phones are destroying our interpersonal communication skills with those that we love. We check our cell phones between 30 to 50 times a day. Many even sleep with it under their pillows. Some will go so far as to call Time-Out during sex to answer their cell. 75 percent of people use their cell phones in the bathroom and use it not only when they are sitting on the toilet but also even in the shower, just in case it rings and somebody needs to talk.
One mother confesses that she uses her cell phone to communicate with her 10-year-old son.  “He doesn’t talk to me, I see him, he passes by and he just says ‘Hi’. When I want a real conversation with him, it’s on the phone.”
Cell phones are killing friendship, face-to-face conversations, and family life.  People forget that when you are with someone, you must make that person the priority in your life.
Selling drugs is a more serious offense than possessing them. Pushers know what addicts crave. The younger you are, the more likely you are to be afflicted with Nomophobia; the more susceptible you are to the wily advances of the phone pushers. Women are also more likely to suffer from Nomophobia than men.
The warning signs of encroaching Nomophobia are easily recognizable: obsessively checking your phone, constantly worrying about losing it even when it’s in a safe place, and never turning it off. If you are in the middle of a conversation and your cell rings, and you have to answer it even if you have no idea who the caller is, it’s time to check into rehab a.s.a.p.
Cell phones, like alcohol, certain narcotics, sex, are, in moderation and used correctly, beneficial and deserve a place in modern life, but they must not be allowed to take over like weeds in a garden that kill flowers, vegetables and fruits leaving us starving with nothing to eat, a life with no nuritishment.
Major, rapid changes in human behaviour and in society as a whole, give rise to concerns about long-term consequences. Such concerns must not be seen as a stubborn resistance to change but rather as a legitimate enquiry as whether or not we are rushing into socially acceptable, but potentially dangerous, addiction. The preoccupation with cell phone apps, upgrades and innovations is so commonplace and socially acceptable, that the stigma falls on people who are not addicted to cell phone technology.
A few days ago, I gave a ride to a woman and two men who were standing by the roadside in the rain. The two men sat in the back of the car, the woman, as always, took her rightful place in the front passenger seat. She immediately took out her two phones and began to dial on both simultaneously; she was clearly a Digi to Digi or Lime to Lime freak.
“It’s me. I got a ride. Yeah,, a ride, I got a ride. On Cap. A ride. Yes, I got a ride. Ok, Yes, I’m OK. Yes, a ride, Cap Estate. You ok? Yeah, I’m ok. Later, yeah.”
She then hung up and repeated the conversation on the other network. I spoke to the guys in the back, catching their eyes in the rear mirror, asking what they used their cells for. They laughed.
“Give my girl a top up,” replied one.
“A top up?”
“Yeah, I . . . ”
Before either could answer, their phones rang almost simultaneously.
First man: “I’m in a car. Yeah, yeah, A ride, yeah. What? Top up, Yeah,” and he hung up.
Second man: “Why don’t you call me? No credit? You got a  . . . Hello?”
First man: She wants a top up?
Second man: Yeah, a top up.
First man: A top up? They always want a top up.
Second man: That’s what they want. A top up.
First man: Always cryin’
Second man: Crying for a top up.
All three got out at Gros Islet. The woman was busy dialing on both cells by the time I drove off.
Addiction is characterized by an extreme preoccupation with a substance or behavior; it goes against the person’s self-interest, overriding the most basic survival instincts. If you’re prone to addiction, cell phone technology can easily become as addictive as a mood-altering drug. For a cell phone addict, last year’s model doesn’t give the buzz it used to, so they have to have the latest technology in order to achieve the same “high.”
Cell phone addiction is invariably financially ruinous and leads to phone bills and the purchase of newer unaffordable models that exceed the addict’s budget. It is also a new weapon, apparently, in the war between the sexes—you want me, you top me up.
It used to be that an heterosexual top up was like filling your car: you inserted the nozzle and filled her up; not any more, and you even have to decide whether she’s a “digi” or a “lime”.
The consequences of cell phone addiction may be social: texting or talking on your phone replaces face-to-face communication. Addiction is an isolating disorder. It creates the illusion of meaningful connection to others, but nothing can replace actual, physical contact.
Risk-taking is another hallmark of addictive behavior. The problem of distracted driving is well known. Drivers who pay more attention to their cell phones than the road have become nearly as much of a menace to society as drunk drivers.
Initially, addictions may seem harmless until the health consequences become so well known that society’s attitudes toward them changes; cigarette smoking is a good example.
Cell phone addiction seems less serious because frequent cell phone use is so common and cell phones themselves are viewed as necessary. TV ads put a humorous and light-hearted spin on consumers’ obsession for the latest app or the newest model.
Addiction may be devastating for the addict, but it benefits the companies that make the products and features that deliver the “fix.” The cell phone is a billion-dollar industry that spends a lot of money to market the idea that addictive behavior is perfectly normal and harmless. It is not; addiction can kill.
If your cell phone use is addictive, the first thing you have to do is admit it. You have to see and admit to the problem before you can do anything about it. Keep track of how much time you spend using your cell phone. Record what you’re actually doing with this
time: how much of it is of legitimate benefit to you, your loved ones and your work, and how much of it is mere escapism? How often do you use your cell phone when you drive? Look, too, at how much money you spend each month and be honest with yourself about whether or not the expense is justified.
In a world where cell phone addiction is viewed as harmless at best or a necessary evil at worst, you’ll need a support network of people who understand the serious nature of the problem and will help you find solutions. Find like-minded friends and work together. Cut down on your cell phone use.
According to a national survey in August by TeleNav Inc., a mobile app company, 40 percent of iPhone users said they’d give up their toothbrush rather than their cell. 66 percent slept next to their smartphones, and 43 percent would go shoeless for a week rather than temporarily release their phones.
The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction in Connecticut recently announced that we have not even begun to see the impact that this technological worldwide epidemic will have.
In any given day, each person may receive thousands of emails, view hundreds of Facebook status updates and receive dozens of texts and phone calls, out of which perhaps half a dozen will be relevant to his or her life.
Cell phones are like slot machines. Presently, there are over 100 million slot machines operating in people’s pockets. People get a hit once in a while, but they can’t predict when. Slot machines used to be called one-arm bandits; they hold you up to ransom on the off chance that the next call might be important.
Use your phone responsibly, or you might end up on the sidewalk begging for a top up to see you through the day.

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