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The Heartbreak of Nomophobia

Summary: Do you suffer from nomophobia? It's an insidious ailment spread by cell phones.

Nomophobia. It's a bitter curse, an affliction that cripples those affected. Perhaps you have a friend or relative who suffers from this condition. I'm sure we'll soon have a Huge Federal Program in place to address the issue.

The mostly-incompetent PR zombies of the world send me hundreds of press releases a week, usually with topics tremendously germane to embedded.com readers like hair treatments and ED cures. Today a gem from SecurEnvoy, another one of those annoying companies with camel-case names, warns that two thirds of us suffer from nomophobia - the fear of losing or being without our mobile phones. The apprehension is so intense that, according to the release, 41% of us have a backup cell phone.

The PR claims 77% of those in the 18-24 age group are nomophobic. Like so many early-onset diseases perhaps the syndrome will metastasize as that generation ages. First, fear of being without their phones. Next, panic over data throttling. When the 3G symbol disappears and EDGE pops up howls of despair will fill the air. I can see the beginnings of an Occupy Verizon movement, tent cities arising on that company's sites, people living in squalor except for their state-of-the-art digital connections.

Or maybe they'll grow up and worry about real problems, like feeding their families.

I figured nomophobia was a neologism concocted by SecurEnvoy to push their wares, but the word has a Wikipedia entry and there's even a site (http://www.nomophobia.com/) dedicated to it. No doubt poor sufferers surf the net in the wee hours, looking for solace in the virtual company of others so afflicted. On their smartphones, if they weren't misplaced.

A quote from the PR: "Another interesting revelation from this study is that, with 49% of people getting upset if their messages and texts were viewed by a partner, they're still lax at securing these devices. Forty-six percent do not use any protection at all." I'm not sure what kind of protection that refers to, but perhaps a bright entrepreneur will come up with a latex solution.

Like all good press releases, SecurEnvoy's latest eschews technical terms in favor of marketing-speak. No PR is complete without a rash of "innovatives," "solutions," "benefits," and "centric." The word "deploy" occurs four times in a single sentence, which amusingly ends with the clause "allowing them to rapidly deploy up to 20,000 users per hour." I can see the mad crush of identical gray-suited users, 20k per hour, spilling out of SecurEnvoy's gates to help us with our nomophobic angst.

But never fear; technology always has a solution. Why not connect a cable between the mobile phone and a base unit? The phone will never get lost, and nomophobes will always know precisely where it can be found.

A nomophobia solution

On another topic, I'm running a salary survey. Please take two minutes to respond to it here (http://www.kwiksurveys.com?s=OBNEJK_8bfd4d81).

Published February 16, 2012