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Your Technology Disorder Has a Name


I must know where my phone is at all times. If I misplace it, panic sets in and, luckily, Find my iPhone has come to my rescue in most instances. I do wonder where my beloved Blackberry Tour went in college, though. I never did find it.

Go figure that “67% of us worry more about losing our phone than our wallet” according to a study cited by this Southwest Magazine article.

Adding to the pressure, if my work laptop got up and walked away, not only would I want to cry, but I would also have to deal with the ramifications that cascade from work. I’ve seen enough laptop security training to know I don’t want to report mine missing. I remember obsessing over it. I had to double-check that the laptop was in the trunk and not the back seat when I drove to lunch, and ensuring the doors were locked by beeping it at least twice, maybe three times to be safe.

And according to an article in The Week, it’s gotten so bad that some of these OCD behaviors have led to named brain disorders:

Nomophobia: The panic you feel when you are separated from your mobile phone

Short for “no-mobile-phobia,” this new fangled word surfaced around 2012, and it impacts about two-thirds of U.S. adults according to Psychology Today. I am self-diagnosing myself with this, and I would bet most accountants could too. Blend the fear of being disconnected with a profession notorious our obsessive tendencies. It’s a match made in heaven. Another U.K. survey indicated that “73 percent of respondents felt panic when they misplaced their phone. And for another 14 percent, that panic spiraled into pure desperation.” Based on my personal experience, for accountants, I’m sure it’s more than 3 out of every four who would frantically dump out their laptop bag to search for a lost phone.

Psychology Today encourages both people who suffer from this disorder and the rest who are in denial to “be sure there are daily times you turn off the cell phone and experience either face-to-face conversations or solitude.”

Easier said than done — which leads us to the next disorder, Technoference.

Technoference: Technology interrupts interactions with others

Mobile devices are a buzzkill:

A stunning 40 percent of participants said they’d postponed sex because of smartphone use. Some admitted to hurrying through sex just to answer a phone call or read a mobile notification.

In addition to interrupting intimacy, tech devices are getting in the way of basic human interaction. This haunting YouTube video makes you think — and feel really depressed — about the state of technoference in the world today:

Fauxcellarm: a phantom ringing sound (vibration) heard (felt) when phone is not ringing or silent

Also called ringxiety. Ever since my phone rang in yoga two years ago, this fear has gotten significantly worse for me. I will turn the phone on silent and then have to double check a couple of minutes later; still, I will hear the phantom ring and start to sweat. According to The Week, “Among the 320 adult mobile phone users he [Dr. David Laramie, a clinical psychologist in Los Angeles] polled, two-thirds of them reported experiencing phantom ringing. That is, they ‘heard’ their phone ringing when it actually wasn’t.”

Unplug and “Deload”

What to do if you’re on the brink of letting one of these disorders get the better of you? Tim Ferriss has some sage advice:

Deloading for business, in my case, consists of strategically taking my foot off the gas. I alternate intense periods of batching similar tasks (recording podcasts, clearing the inbox, writing blog posts, handling accounting, etc.) with extended periods of — for lack of poetic description — unplugging and f***ing around.

He also suggests that you take this “deloading” time seriously and “defended as strongly as–actually, more strongly than–your business commitments.”

True, Tim. Now, if only we can remind our bosses we need to back away from our devices. We will be in better mental health if we can go for an afternoon stroll. Or, maybe it’s time for an extended foosball match in the breakroom. And, you know, there should be a charge code for that too. A girl can dream.

Special thanks to @RPJohnston for inspiring this blog with an excellent 2017 Technology Update CPE class this week!