I own a smartphone. Who doesn’t? At 87, I’ve yet to contract the malady, nomophobia: fear of being without a mobile phone. Worse than flu!

Recently, I kicked back in one of the new lounge chairs at my local auto dealership, waiting completion of service. Time enough to become aware of customers sidelined by “nomophobia.” Initially, four folk worked fingers across screens. Medics would best describe one patron’s display as “text claw and cell phone elbow.” The others met the test of “posture and text neck” as well as “conjunctive vision syndrome.”

During my wait, customers coming and going never varied from the nomophobia norm. Nary a face-to-face conversation. Nor were nouns and verbs offered to phone screens. Finger dexterity has become the name of the mobile phone game. The person who coined the phrase, “You can run, but you can’t hide,” never observed owners of mobile phones reacting in a lounge, pending customer repair service.

Any intent to share brand new trivia was quashed: “Why is a cat on the beach like Christmas?” “Where was the first french fry made?” “Why does a duck have tail feathers?” I was even willing to forego trivia in exchange for a bit of verbal uncivility. The silence was deafening.

Our national depth of nomophobia is hip deep. A professor at Indiana University found that 89 percent of students in her study group experienced “phantom pocket vibration syndrome” when their mobile phones weren’t vibrating.

The handwriting is on the wall, so to speak, in the form of words spoken by a mindful man, Albert Einstein: “I fear the day when technology overlaps humanity, the world will have a generation of idiots.”

John Benoit


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