According to a 2012 Science Direct study, phantom vibration—a phenomenon where you think your phone is vibrating but it’s not—has existed only since the launch of mobile phones. This “syndrome” is a sign of the digital intrusion in our lives. Today, it’s so common that researchers have devoted studies to it. Research shows phantom vibration syndrome, or its other nicknames—like hypovibochondria or ring-xiety—are a near-universal experience for people with smartphones. “Something in your brain is being triggered that’s different than what was triggered just a few short years ago,” says Dr. Larry Rosen, a research psychologist who studies how technology affects our minds.
Facebook and other social-media commentary trigger push notifications that are leading us to reach for our phones with the same speed that a child reaches for candy. This compulsive behavior is leading to obsession and other anxiety-related symptoms. People who constantly pick up their phones look like they have an obsession, not much different from someone who repeatedly checks locks or washes their hands. When checking and rechecking our Facebook news feeds becomes an obsession, the only way to counter its effects is to give Facebook and our smartphones a rest. And just like Dr. Rosen from this study, I am all for technological advancement, but Facebook users must stop spending so much time plugged in. When it comes to social-media, we either love it or hate it, and even when we hate it, many of us can’t seem to put it aside for long periods of time. In many ways, once you go Facebook, you never go back.
Facebook’s driving force is that it allows us to exchange messages without being physically present. Facebook gives us almost unlimited expression and connection. On a certain level, the power behind social-media is awe-inspiring. Aside from connectivity, Facebook allows us to give and receive information like never before. All of a sudden, we want to know everything about each other and we want to share more of ourselves to the world. This kind of connectivity and information sharing is certainly empowering but it’s also changing who we are, how we interact and how we perceive our world. Sharing on Facebook is no longer just a bridge between our thoughts and the world; Facebook has become an alternative reality.