Don’t be Nomophobic

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UNAIR NEWS – Lately, the term Nomophobia or No Mobile Phone Phobia has been popular and heard a lot. This new term was coined by a British scientist and became a promulgation of the existing people depended on gadgets. Prof. Rhenald Kasali, Ph.D in his book Cracking Zone: Bagaimana Memetakan Perubahan di Abad 21 dan Keluar dari Perangkap Comfort Zone (How to Map Changes in the 21st Century and Escape From the Trap of Comfort Zone), called these people as “Asri”, short form of “Asyik Sibuk Sendiri (enjoy themselves).”

They eyes glued to the screen, their fingers nimbly typed messages or browsing the Internet. These Asri group do not really care about their surroundings. They are content being only with their gadgets.

Responding to the trend, Clinical Psychology and Mental Health expert from UNAIR, Margaretha Rehulina, S.Psi., G.Dip.Psych.,M.Sc, stated that Nomophobia for now is still merely a popular term and is not categorized as a mental disorder. It is not a serious illness, only an effect of modern lifestyle.

As its name, Nomophobia is a tendency of an individual who really depends on communication media or gadget. When someone cannot use his gadget or have difficulties with his gadget, he will get excessive anxiety. It was caused by illogical and exagerrated reasons.

For example, when there is low signal or running out of battery, the gadget cannot be used properly. This kind of situation will create excessive anxiety. The reasons are being afraid of missing latest information, being afraid of updating status or photos in social media, or feeling less existing and so on.

The dependence on massive technology as we see nowadays has never happened before. But now, various kinds of gadgetry with various features and internet connection and social media can be enjoyed by anyone without constraint on the cost.

Margaretha said that Nomophobia cannot be categorized as phobia as listed in the textbook Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (DSM) published by American Psychiatric Association. “Nomophobia is not a phobia yet because it hasn’t been scaled as epidemic,” she said.

To businessmen or professionals, communication device is very important. It is not a strange thing if they have more than one mobile phones to support their activities. They cannot be categorized in Nomophobic. To recognize a nomophobic, identify its characteristics well.

According to Margaretha, as it has not been scientifically researched, then most of its characteristics are merely speculative. The most distinctive sign is an excessive anxiety when they cannot use or difficult to use gadgets or being far from a communication media. This excessive anxiety disrupts their activity.

“In a certain condition, someone can be not in the mood if they cannot use their gadgets because of running out of battery or signal shortage. Finally, they don’t feel like doing anything else or talking to people around them,” she said.

If we connect it with a condition of having more than one mobile phones, is it also a characteristic of nomophobics? In her opinion, it still depends on the context.
According to her, there are some reasons someone use gadgets. First, there is a need to access information fast, a need to interact and socialize easily, and use gadgets as media to be expressive.

There are many things or considerations why someone has gadgets more than one. It could be an occupational risk. The difference is its intensity or tendency to be excessively anxious when they cannot use the gadgets. As long as the gadget owners can manage his communication media well, then they will never experience it.

“Seeing if it is nomophobia or not is only our effort to understand someone’s behaviour. The most important thing is our effort to change that before it becomes a bad habit,” he explained.

Suppressing Nomophobia

Created as social creatures, we cannot stop communicating and socializing. There are many alternative communication media we can manage. So, without using gadgets excessively, we can still be expressive.

The first key to suppress the anxiety is by changing the way of thinking. Margaretha explained, people with that excessive anxiety should be aware of it as an illogical anxiety and should know that there are still more communication media they could use.

After changing the way of thinking, start to manage other communication medias, “Don’t always depend on gadgets, information update can be from anything. Read newspapers or books, emails, listen to the radio, or even chat with others, and do more positive activities. It should be done more often,” she explained.

One other important thing is train yourselves to use gadgets when it is necessary, to understand when to use it and when you should not use it. This is important because when you enjoy yourself with your gadgets, you do not make interactions with your surrounding people.

Without realizing it, when we enjoy ourselves, there are many things missed and neglected. Communicating face-to-face is getting less done. It causes less empathy to surroundings.

It is indeed a worrying condition. Margaretha belived if it happens on and on then it can make people less supple in communication, and even seemed to be asocial.

“A nomophobic is seemed to be asocial, but actually he isn’t. They still socialize but more with the gadget than do it face-toface,” she said.

This condition is often experienced by teenagers. Consequently, the way they communicate sounds as less polite either written or spoken. Margaretha believed that it happened because they are accustomed to communicate in social media which is more to the point.
The way to communicate face-to-face is different from the way in social media. In her opinion, the arrangement of communicating should be maintained. In Javanese there is a term unggah-ungguh. A face-toface communication should have eye-to-eye contact, addressing order, introduction, then continue with the intention of the conversation.

“They who relying on gadgets and not being able to use other alternative of communication, will be considered rude, and cannot communicate properly,” she explained. (*)

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Media komunikasi dan informasi seputar kampus Universitas Airlangga (Unair).

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