Imagine the scene – after a thumpingly long day at the office you’ve found solace in front of the box with your favourite soap opera and a well earned cuppa. Just the job. The ‘bubble of peace’ is suddenly penetrated, however, by a vibration, or sound, you think is coming from the other end of the sofa.
You reach over for your mobile – only to find it hasn’t vibrated or rung at all. Spooky.
More and more people are reporting what I call ‘ghost-buzz’ or others have named as ‘ringxiety.’ Worryingly researcher Michelle Drouin recently found that almost 9 of 10 undergraduates at her college had experienced the issue.
So what’s going on? Some experts point to the over-riding ‘attentional commitment’ we give to our mobiles. This commitment and ‘hard wiring’ of our brain is now at such a level that even when our devices aren’t vibrating or sounding off, we’re tricked into thinking they are.
Social scientists are increasingly worried that this near constant distraction of communication devices is sapping our energy and diluting our effectiveness and happiness.
But fear not. A people-powered fightback has already started: using different tactics to thwart tech-driven distraction. Some office workers are daring to check their email 3 times a day rather than 3 times a minute, or putting their phone on silent when concentrating on key tasks.
For my own part I’ve tried to resurrect the long lost art of the ‘quick phone chat’ instead of sending 4 or 5 fumbled and error-strewn texts to arrange a night out with a friend. It’s been an incredibly scientific 7 day trial (!) – but on the whole, using the green phone button more has been faster and far more enjoyable.
Try creating a distraction free time in your day – it’s amazing how liberating it is!