phantom vibration syndrome

The syndrome known as “phantom vibration” is characterised by an individual falsely perceiving that their cell phone is vibrating or ringing when it isn’t — Wikipedia

Sound like you? Keep reading…

How many times a day do you check your phone?

Apple recently reported that their users unlock their phones on average 80 times a day, which works out at about 6–7 times every hour.

Not only that, we touch our phones on average 2.5K times a day.

Some estimates show we spend the equivalent of three weeks every year on social media and checking emails.

I think it’s fair to say we now live in an age where we are obsessed with our phones (or more so what our phones provide).

Our phones hold the answer to anything we could ever want to know. Whether we want to ask Google, YouTube or our friends via social media our phones are often the connection between us and the answers we seek.

Our phones make us feel happy, wanted, secure and satisfied (even if those emotions are more fleeting than when we experience them offline).

How can we benefit from disconnecting?

Apart from phantom vibration syndrome (I will share tips how to avoid this shortly), here are two other benefits we can enjoy by disconnecting from our phones more often in this digital age.

We can have better conversation

There have been several interesting experiments illustrating how Google is a conversation killer (sorry Google!).

In one study 35 people were observed by undercover neurologists. Their behaviour and conversation was watched and monitored closely with technology and without for 35 days. The study highlighted that in a connected world when general trivia comes up we immediately Google it which ends any further questioning. Without Google people continue to talk around what the answer might be which often leads to conversation that strengthens relationships and involves creative storytelling, guessing games and insider jokes.

Takeaway — just because Google always has the answer it doesn’t mean we always have to ask.

We can stand up straighter and make deeper connections

The same study also illustrated how phones affect our posture and how we physically connect with people offline. In the experiment after three days without phones, people began to adapt by standing up straighter and looking forward into people’s eyes more.

Standing up straighter and looking forward more often opens up the front of our bodies, pushes back our shoulders realigns the back of our head with the spine. The study also noted the following:

“A wonderful side effect of this is that people’s general energy opens up, they appear much more approachable when they enter a room.”

Interestingly the Sales Force Chief Executive Marc Benioff has rolled out device free meetings as he sees the negative impact this has on people connecting with each other and the invaluable small talk colleagues make before a meeting starts while waiting for others to arrive.

Takeaway — resist the temptation to look at your phone when arriving at and waiting in social situations such as meetings and events.

3 simple ways to help prevent / reduce phantom vibration syndrome

So, if you are feeling the vibrations (the phantom ones, not the good ones) here are three simple things you can do to detach from your phone on a more regular basis:

1. Reduce the time you are ‘connected’

Create simple rules in your head to reduce the amount of unproductive times you check your phone. For example: in the morning don’t look at your phone until after you have got up and got dressed, at work keep your phone in your bag and don’t look at it until lunch time. When you are socialising try to keep your phone off your person and out of site. Set yourself easy to follow rules and these quickly should become positive habits.

2. Turn off the ringer / vibrator

This allows your brain to stop being bombarded with the noises and also allows you to check your phone on your own terms rather than being ruled by it going off.

3. Use airplane mode

This is my favourite and I do this all the time, especially at night. If your phone is on airplane mode, it is not going to randomly vibrate or ring. Airplane mode allows us to have our phone with us in case there’s an emergency and usage is necessary, but doesn’t bombard our brain with constant notifications (sounds or vibrations). It also reduces the risk of potential health problems stemming from RF-EMF (radio-frequency electromagnetic field) radiation.

Ever experienced phantom vibration syndrome? Let me know by commenting below.

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That Social Media Girl

That Social Media Girl lives and breathes social media. She is based in London. Tweet her at @TSMGirlLondon.