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Nomophobia: The Rainbow Parties of Tech News?

Come on, guys.
 Nomophobia: The Rainbow Parties of Tech News?

“I mean, how could you NOT be addicted?” — Apple fans. (Photo: twitter.com/DiarioLaPrensa)

Are you sufficiently alarmed about the prospect of Internet and/or technological addiction? Because solicitous local tabloid the New York Daily News has gathered up all the symptoms of nomophobia, or the fear of being without one’s smartphone, for all the hypochondriacs out there.

Among the signs:

“People check their phones up to 34 times a day,” says Dr. Elizabeth Waterman, whose clients at Morningside Recovery Center are typically in treatment for other issues, but discover their obsession with their cell phones is a problem in itself.

Only 34 times a day? Most of us are at double that, probably. And remember that time two weeks ago you left the house without your smartblanket and it was like missing a limb? That’s a symptom, too!

“One of the biggest things is anxiety or fear or panic at even the thought of losing their phone,” she said. “They make sure their phone is constantly in their reach, obsessively checking the battery life, and take their phone into inappropriate places to use it.”

Don’t even pretend you don’t tweet from the toilet.

In fact, it sounds like one of Silicon Alley’s own might qualify. The News talked to Tumblr executive director Jessica Bennett, who someone needs to inform that denial is not a river in Egypt:

“This assessment was clearly not created for any normal human living in the digital age,” she wrote via email. “Do I keep it within arm’s length? What?! Duh.”

Now that you’re all duly convinced you’re helplessly in the throes of addiction, we should probably mention that nomophobia isn’t exactly a new plague sweeping across the world at pandemic rates of infection. Betabeat has previously written about millennials and their Internet addictions (they even show physical symptoms!), as well as the more specific manifestation that is Twitter addiction. Back in June, the Times compared smartphones to last century’s addition of choice, the cigarette (specifically, the post-coital one, which is obviously the best kind). Nomophobia specifically has been covered in TechCrunch, the Daily Mail in 2012, the Daily Mail in 2008, IT World, and the LA Times.

Buried in the Daily News piece, however, is the admission that, “While nomophobia is not a clinical disorder — Dr. Waterman is quick to note it’s not something doctors technically “diagnose” — it is categorized as a specific phobia, on par with a fear of flying.”

In short: This is pretty much the rainbow party of dystopian tech trends. Fun to get the readers all aflutter; probably about as likely to become a serious, life-altering problem as having your face eaten off by someone tripping on bath salts.

Text neck, on the other hand…

Follow Kelly Faircloth on Twitter or via RSS. kfaircloth@observer.com