According to a new study, people separated from their smart phones feel separation anxiety:
To conduct the study, researchers told participants that the purpose of the experiment was to test the reliability of a new wireless blood pressure cuff. The subjects were then given word search puzzles to complete, the first time with their iPhone in their possession and the second time without it.
Researchers recorded the subjects’ heart rates and blood pressure while they completed the first puzzle with their iPhones. For the second puzzle, researchers told the participants that their iPhones needed to be placed further away from them because they were causing “Bluetooth interference” with the wireless blood pressure cuff.
Researchers found a “significant increase in anxiety, heart rate and blood pressure levels” when they took away the participants iPhones while they were completing the puzzle.
I guess anyone could have guessed this would be the case. Apple has already understood the market potential of this separation anxiety, and is championing the iWatch as a wearable iPhone. I would guess it is only a matter of time before people are actually internalizing their smart phones. In a couple of years, we’ll have the iMplant.
Would that be a bad thing? According to some, our obsession with checking and rechecking our smart phone notifications could be categorized as an addiction. The constant intrusion of notifications, buzzings, and beeps might be hurting our productivity or seriously affecting our lives: from sleep cycles to socialization. So separation anxiety could just be another word for withdrawals.
If the iPhone were integrated into our consciousness somehow, would that make the situation worse, or better? Would we be better about forgetting our iPhone if it were just another notification matrix in our nervous system? Or would that just make us all the more nervous?
I think, for my part, I can say that the ever-present global smart phone craze, and the attending separation anxiety (and notification anxiety), are not good for humanity. Like most anything that has the capacity to improve our lives, technology is a powerful servant but a fearful master. Sometimes, whatever separation anxiety it might cause you, you should just turn off your phone, your computer, your screens. Brew some tea, talk to some friends face-to-face, read a book with actual pages, take a walk … anything. I promise, once the withdrawals wear off, you’ll be better off.