Separation anxiety and battery-level worry are part of an all-too-common new phobia.
ONE of the top daily chores is charging various devices. It is like an obsession. I worry about whether my family has enough battery juice to support their device-dependent lives.
At home, my task is to check the battery level of my Samsung Galaxy S8+ smartphone, Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 tablet, Samsung J5 smartphone, JBL E45BT wireless headphones, Anker and Xiaomi battery packs and Microsoft Surface Pro 4 tablet.
It is also my job to check the battery level of my nine-year-old daughter’s iPad Mini 2 tablet, Samsung Galaxy S2 tablet, Steelseries Stratus XL gamepad and Steelseries Nimbus gamepad, and my four-year-old son’s iPad mini 4 tablet and Steelseries Nimbus.
Occasionally, I worry about the battery level of my wife’s iPhone 7 plus smartphone. But she’s an adult. It is her responsibility to monitor her smartphone’s battery juice.
If the battery levels of our devices are low – say only 70% – I will charge them. It can be stressful monitoring the battery level of the devices and charging them.
“How many per cent is your battery?” I’ll ask Apsara, my daughter. “Twenty per cent? You’d better stop using your iPad and charge it. Why not use your Samsung tablet while you charge your iPad?”
Apsara will make a better decision. She’ll charge her iPad using a battery pack, so that she can use both of her tablets. She uses one to
There’s an Aukey charging station, which can charge 10 devices, in my living room. At any given time, usually two to three devices are being charged. At night, when we go to bed, there are about five or six devices being charged.
The coffee table, where the charging station sits, is a tangled mess of charging cables. Managing the tangled mess is another story.
In a life dominated by devices such as smartphones and tablets, battery juice is like life itself. Without it, my smartphone is dead and I probably can’t function that day.
I’m probably suffering from nomophobia. It is coined from “no + mobile + phone + phobia”. It is a modern age anxiety which refers to the irrational fear of not being able to use a smartphone.
Even as I’m writing this article, I’m checking the battery level of my Samsung S8+ smartphone. It is at 90% and I’m charging the smartphone. I don’t like to leave home without full battery on my smartphone.
I’m writing using Google Docs on my Samsung Tab S3 tablet. And I’m getting anxious as the battery level shows 83%. I’ll charge it as soon as my smartphone has 100% battery juice.
Now that Apsara is nine years old, I lecture her on battery management: “You’d better learn to charge your own gadgets! If you run out of battery, don’t cry!”
I think that’s the most important advice I’ve ever given her, yet.
Like father, like daughter, Apsara too probably suffers from nomophobia. It is apparent especially when her battery level on her iPad mini 2 is at 15% and she forgot to bring a battery pack for dinner at a restaurant.
At the dining table, she’ll have a sulky look that would only turn adorable after I give her my smartphone so that she can watch YouTube.
And it will be my turn to be anxious. I’ll be imagining what important messages I’ll be missing on WhatsApp.
Before you think that I am a shallow person who is obsessed with my smartphone, allow me to share new research on nomophobia.
Scientists at the City University of Hong Kong and Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul say the smartphone is an extension of ourselves because it is so advanced and personal to us.
The smartphone is stored with meaningful photos and messages. And it has apps, websites and services that let us quickly access important content.
“As smartphones evoke more personal memories, users extend more of their identity onto their smartphones,” according to research that was published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking.
“When users perceive smartphones as their extended selves, they are more likely to become attached to the devices, which, in turn, leads to nomophobia by heightening the phone proximity-seeking tendency.”
Sometimes, I wonder how I survived life before the age of smartphones.
Now, I rely on my smartphone to run my life.
It is an apps world. I need Waze to navigate, WhatsApp to communicate, Google to know things, Facebook to be connected with friends, Google calendar to know when my flight back to Sabah is, and Uber so that I don’t get cheated by a taxi driver.
All these apps are in my smartphone. But if there’s no battery juice it will be no + mobile + phone + phobia.
Now where’s my Anker battery pack? I need to charge my Samsung Tab S3 tablet as I only have 86% of battery left.