Apple … we have a problem. It’s you!

Phantom Vibration Syndrome? What is that? I thought. According to Dr. Larry Rosen, a guest on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, phantom vibration is a recent phenomenon associated with an individual believing her phone is vibrating when, in reality, it is not. The confused soul reaches into her purse to find that she had been deceived—not by her phone; rather, by her mind. Sound familiar?

Well, it sure did to me. I experience phantom vibrations all the time. Evidently, I’m not alone because it happens so often to so many people that legitimate research is being conducted on the occurrence.   As I listened to the program, I began to worry. Dr. Rosen compared it to obsessive behavioral disorders, “How is constantly picking up your phone any different than washing your hands over and over again?” he asked. (I’m paraphrasing here.)

Me? Obsessive compulsive? No way! … Well, Hmmmmm.

Dr. Rosen really got me thinking about my own habits, could I be addicted to my smart phone? I decided to try a little experiment of my own.

  1. How often do I think about using my smart phone?
  2. How do I feel physically and mentally when I reach for my phone?

Every time I thought about picking up my phone or actually did pick up my phone, I marked it on a sheet of paper and then wrote down how I felt at that moment.   Tracking occurred for one day, beginning as soon as i woke up and ending at 6:30pm when my husband, Matt, caught me in the act. We were sitting in the kitchen talking about our day when I interrupted his story.

“Damn,” I said, and got up from the table to get my notebook out of my purse. Matt watched me curiously as I made a mark on a sheet of paper and wrote down a few notes. When I returned to the table, he asked, “What’s wrong?”

“I thought about my phone again.”

“What are you talking about?” he asked. That’s when I told him about my experiment.

“Well, how many times have you reached for your phone today?” he questioned.

“I don’t know. I haven’t done the math yet.”

“Go get it, and let’s find out,” he encouraged, laughing.

Adding up all the little check marks I quickly realized, Apple, we have a problem…and it’s you. I had reached for my iPhone sixty-seven times that day. No wonder I can’t get anything done! I told Matt the figure, and his eyes widened with shock.

“Do you think that’s a lot?” I asked.

“Yeah, that’s a lot. You use your phone more than I do, and I use mine for work.”

I reviewed my observations about how I felt at the moment I wanted to use my phone, and most of the comments indicated signs of anxiety. But the following notation cleared away any doubt I had about my predicament, “I looked at my hand, and saw that I was holding my phone, not knowing how it got there.”

While I’m no psychologist, I have enough lay-person training to say that I have a problem. Obviously I need to redefine the parameters of my relationship with my smart phone, and I’d love to hear some of your techniques for keeping a healthy rapport with your technical devices. I’ll keep you updated on my recovery; I just won’t use my smart phone to do it.

To hear the original story that inspired this blog, please visit:

Originally posted on 10/18/2013 on

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