On Nomophobia

I learned a new concept last week. It came about as we were lounging about my brother-in-laws pool on Christmas night. He’s got this great little bungalow out the back of his yard with a built in barbecue, fridge, television and stereo and with an adjoining pool. We were chowing down on King Prawn kebabs and the like while the kiddies swam in the pool to cool off from the heat wave we were experiencing. Christmas in Australia isn’t so much about “Dashing through the snow” as it is about “Dashing across the hot sand at the beach” in 35-40 Celcius.

I noticed, however, that Jett was struggling down at the deep end of the pool. He was paddling like mad, out of arms reach of the edge. Despite all the swimming lessons we have invested in, our kids are still not competent swimmers. We met eyes, and his look told me that he was going down and probably not coming up again. Everything else seemed to disappear from view, and my ears could hear no sound. The only thought in my mind, and perhaps in both our minds, was to make sure that Jett could take another breath.

I do remember one thought: should I jump in feet first or should I dive? I don’t know how I arrived at my decision but I do remember being very conscious of that question. I did a flying leap off a three step runup that would have made Bob Beamon proud, took another step and gently lifted Jett onto my shoulders and over to the edge of the pool.

After we sorted Jett out, I wanted to check the time. Being a modern guy, I don’t have a watch but prefer to read the time off my mobile phone. It was then that I realised that I’d jumped into the pool with my trusty HTC Desire Z phone in my pocket. I took it out and I kid you not, it was like the poor thing was shivering and moaning in pain. The water had shorted out the vibration mechanism as well as the speakers, and it was emitting a shrill death cry as it shook.

HTC Desire Z

Alas poor Desire Z

Which leads me to the title of this article: Nomophobia is defined as the fear of being out of mobile phone contact, an abbreviation for “no-mobile-phone phobia”. Yes, I later discovered that there’s actually a word for how I was feeling. I wasn’t scared so much as having an immediate anxiety of not having a tool which is pretty central to my day to day life. Everything I have is on that phone, or rather was. Under any other circumstance if I’d lost or wrecked my phone I’d be cursing like a mother fucker, but I just smiled at myself because I much preferred this outcome to the possible alternative.

The good news is that I now have a reason to go shopping, and also since everything in my online life is synced with Google (Gmail, Contacts, Drive, Play Books, Music etc) I haven’t actually lost anything. I’ll just turn my new phone on, log in, sync up and be on my way like nothing happened, which is exactly how Jett must want things too.

Kindle is better than real books

It might have taken me a while, but I’m more convinced now than ever than electronic books like Amazon’s Kindle and Google’s Play Books are better than their real-world counterparts. Before, say, two or three years ago I wasn’t so sure, but having used e-books very regularly I can see a time where real books will be a bastion of old-time stalwarts doggedly holding on to old nostalgic tech much like how vinyl records are treated by recorded music enthusiasts today.

I used to take a certain pride in my home library, small though it was. Through high school and uni, I built a small but well loved collection of books including both fiction and non-fiction. I’ve had to cull a lot of books from time to time, mostly to keep my wife sane and happy. But I’ve kept a core books which I could easily say defined what I knew of the world and of myself; great reference books and timeless stories which both educated me and inspired me.

Since buying into the Smart-Phone market, I’ve been able to sell most of those books on ebay (not without a measure of emotion) and buy their e-book equivalents on Amazon Kindle and Google Play, even making a modest profit in the process. I’ll admit, it’s fairly hard going reading, say, War and Peace on a 4 inch phone screen but since investing in a Google Nexus 7 this year I’ve found myself reading a lot more than I used to.

There are lots of benefits to the e-book paradigm. In my device, I can carry THOUSANDS of books. If I’m stuck on the train or looking for something to do, I can reach out and have access to every book I’ve ever bought, no matter where I am. You always have a selection of books to read, and no weight to carry around.

And since they’re instantly delivered wirelessly, buying a book any time any place is a simple matter. No more disappointments from sold-out titles at book stores. No more dings, dents or dog-ears from other less thoughtful consumers who’ve previously handled those physical books. Nope. I enjoy the system of browsing, downloading and reading instantly.

I’ve even got some magazine subscriptions, which are a nice surprise to find waiting for me when I turn my device on.

If you’re short sighted, you can always zoom in or increase the font size. Things like changing the font or paper colour, or setting the screen brightness are a snap. Searching the book is a lot easier and more thorough. Kindle and Play also allows you to highlight parts of your e-book, much like using a neon highlighter, with the advantage of being able to remove unwanted highlights. Of course there’s also the electronic version of the good old bookmark so you can easily find the last page you were reading.

And if, Heaven forbid, I lose my device then I can simply re-download the books for free onto my new device. There’s even a system for “loaning” books to a friend.

So if you’re into books, I say “throw off the chains of the physical world” and invest in an e-book reader whether it’s a Kindle, iPad or Android device. You’ll be glad you did.

This is sure and impressive library