The Associated Press published a story yesterday on BlackBerrys and Phantom Vibrations. What's a Phantom Vibration? Basically you feel a vibration on your hip or wherever you normally wear your BlackBerry, but in actuality it's all in your head - the phone is not vibrating (in some cases the BlackBerry is not even close to you!).
Research in the area is scant, but theories abound about the phenomenon, which has been termed "ringxiety" or "fauxcellarm." Anecdotal evidence suggests "people feel the phone is part of them" and "they're not whole" without their phones, since the phones connect them to the world, said B.J. Fogg, director of research and design at Stanford University's Persuasive Technology Lab.
"As human beings, we're so tapped into our community, responsiveness to what's going on, we're so attuned to the threat of isolation and rejection, we'd rather make a mistake than miss a call," he said. "Our brain is going to be scanning and scanning and scanning to see if we have to respond socially to someone."
In certain circles, phantom vibrations are a point of pride. "Of course I get them," said Fred Wilson, a managing partner of Union Square Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm based in New York. "I've been getting them for over 10 years since I started with the pager-style BlackBerry.
The author of the article, Ellen Simon, actually contacted me a couple of weeks ago in doing research for this article and we had a good chat on the topic (I guess my quotes made the cutting room floor :-)). My take was that OF COURSE people experience Phantom Vibrations... I've been getting them since my first cell phone (Motorola StarTac Analog) and that it's not just a BlackBerry thing. But in addition to the Phantom Vibrations, I also hear Phantom Ringtones (I'm always hearing my BlackBerry ring, even when its not), and more critically and more specific to the BlackBerry itself, I also get Phantom LED Syndrome. During the day when I'm by the computer my BlackBerry is sitting on my desk, and out of the corner of my eye I always think I see the darn LED blinking red with a message -- sometimes it is and a lot of times its not - so I'm constantly, constantly reaching for my BlackBerry. More than anything, I think Phantom LED Syndrome is what puts the 'crack' into CrackBerry.
Phantom Vibrations, Ringtones, and LEDs haunting you? Let us KNOW!
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