Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
October 22, 2007 7:08 PM

Phantom BlackBerry Vibrations - The Silent Killer?

I no longer have to suffer alone. It's ok to talk about it. There are many, like me, who suffer from phantom vibrations.

Phantom vibrations are the feeling that your mobile device (in my case, my BlackBerry) is vibrating when it is not. There are even some who suffer from phantom vibrations when the device is not even on them (thankfully, mine only occurs when the BlackBerry is on my hip).

This article from cracked me up: Phantom Vibrations - Is that a new BlackBerry message, or is it all in your head?

"Some users compare the feeling to a phantom limb, which Merriam-Webster's medical dictionary defines as 'an often painful sensation of the presence of a limb that has been amputated.'

'Even when I don't have the BlackBerry physically on my person, I do find myself adjusting my posture when I sit to accommodate it,' said Dawn Mena, an independent technology consultant based in Thousand Oaks, Calif. 'I also laugh at myself as I reach to unclip it (I swear it's there) and find out I don't even have it on.'

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.'"

So here's the marketing question: is this good or bad for the BlackBerry brand?

I say good (it's also probably good for the mobile marketing and ringtone industries as well).

If you think it's not good, you do have to admit, that it's still good for laugh (even when it is at ourselves).

By Mitch Joel

Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Phil Barrett
    Mitch Joel

    we are so reliant on these things now... check out the two funny videos below related to this:

    1) Dave Spade Intervention

    2) Grown man cries after having his blackberry taken away

  • Posted by saul colt
    Mitch Joel

    I thought I was alone with this condition. It makes me crazy!


  • Posted by Douglas Walker
    Mitch Joel

    This feeling, which I refer to as "SPIT" (or Smart Phone-Induced Twitch") happens to me almost constantly listening to music in the car. When the right bass note is hit it seems to resonate with my Treo and feel exactly like it is vibrating.

    Drives me nuts, perhaps we need a new silent alert system like a small string attached to a nose hair that yanks it out whenever the phone should ring - there would be no mistaking that for something else...

  • Posted by troy
    Mitch Joel

    I actually thought I was going crazy, then Saturday Night Live did a skit and mentioned the "phatom vibrations." I had them for several weeks, they started right after a long term brake-up...yet while on vacation last week I didn't have any, my blackberry must have been on vacation too!

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