Southern Illinois University Carbondale

Column: Nomophobia: "No more phobia"

Colleen Lindsay

Issue date: 4/3/08 Section: Columns
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The fear of being out of cell phone range.

It sounds kind of crazy, but it was the discussion of an entire British article.

Nomophobia stands for "no mobile phobia," according to the article. If you think this is hilarious, start thinking about how mad you have gotten at one of your friends for "dropping" your call or "breaking up" while talking.

At my house, there is exactly two feet of house we can receive a call in. If you dare step out of those designated two feet, all the while leaning into the window, you lose your call and have to call back. It is a frustrating feeling to be talking to someone, only to find out he is no longer there; You are telling the whole story to yourself.

Another factor in this cell phone rage, according to the article, is the stress that goes along with a cell phone. There is fear that your phone will lose battery power - mine is on charge right now - or that you will lose your phone.

Some other common stressors that I have come across are: your phone, or someone else's, ringing in class; text-message spam; and the knowledge that people think they can always get a hold of you.

We have all sat in class while a fellow students' - or even, gasp - the professor's, phone went off. I don't know how many different ring tones or loud vibrations I have heard while in class. Sometimes it was a distraction; at other times, a relief. But it always was cause for a red face and a hurried hand to the purse or pocket to shut up the phone.

During one class period, the cell phone began to recite the number of the caller instead of just singing a song. The unexpected recipient was a male student who simply refused to acknowledge that the phone was his. The professor waited for the phone to count down the number and then proclaimed, "And we're off!"

I don't remember what the rest of the lecture was about. I was too busy laughing.

Text message spam is not so bad for people who have free text messages. But those of us who pay 15 cents every time we check our inbox or send a reply get quite irritated. I don't know how many "wonderful" offers I have gotten from unknown people.

This week, I unsubscribed to the SIU text message system. I signed up for it after the NIU shooting. I wanted to make sure that, were an armed gunman to show up on SIU campus and the service who sends out these text messages found out about it, I would know.

Unfortunately, for the last few weeks, all I have been receiving are warnings about the weather.

Actually, I can look outside and tell that we are going through a thunderstorm. I don't need to pay 15 cents every time SIU thinks it's important that I remember this (often more than once in one thunderstorm). That's why I watch Jim Rasor and log on to

This is one kind of spam that I can control. Unfortunately, should that armed gunman show up, I would need to be sitting next to someone who is still on that system and willing to pay for weather updates.

Finally, I think it's frustrating when people always think they can reach you because you have a cell phone. It also works the other way; when you are wondering why a person is ignoring you and they have really been at work, in a meeting or sitting through a lecture.

One of the suggestions in the article I read was that you simply turn your cell phone off. What good does that do? I have a close family member who will call the police, National Guard or anyone who will listen to rescue me from imminent danger if I don't answer my phone for 15 minutes. And I am only partially kidding.

Sometimes I think maybe if I didn't own a cell phone, I wouldn't stress out so much over missing a call or not being able to talk to someone because he is too busy. But then it wouldn't even be an option to get a hold of anyone.

There is not a good solution to nomophobia other than to practice deep breathing whenever faced with a cell phone rage or an enraged user.

Please - just don't text me weather updates.

Lindsay is a senior studying journalism.

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posted 4/03/08 @ 4:27 AM CST

its the curse of this age, too much data , a lot less patience and hundreds of worries. What could be normal around a mobile, you keep one to always stay in touch by text, calls and more (emails). (Continued…)

Kyle Raccio

posted 4/03/08 @ 6:41 PM CST

Do you ever write about something that is an actual issue to a living soul in the world?

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