Friday, August 1, 2014

Micturating In The Wind

Taking care of biological functions at a business lunch yesterday I was astounded to see the gentleman next to me texting and urinating simultaneously.

Really?!? We all know about hands free cell phone usage, but that usually means not holding the phone...

It reminded me when I was in San Francisco last. I was in the elevator of a nice hotel with two other gentlemen who were completely absorbed in their hand held devices.

When we got to floor 15 one of them exited, still staring without blinking at his phone, "see you at dinner?"

The other, without missing one thumb move on his device, just sort of grunted a "yes."

Have we become so connected to immediate communication gratification that we can't even set the phone down to hold Old Willy long enough to ensure all hazardous waste goes where it's supposed to go?

And while texting and driving is bad enough, walking into and out of elevators can pose a hazard to self and others as well.

When I returned to the office after that business lunch a consultant researching a project for WorkCompCentral told me about some communications he had with a claims manager for a small adjusting firm. 

It was about how busy claims people are now-a-days because communications expectations are so NOW, so voluminous, frequent and relentless.

Bowzer knows - don't text when urinating.
That description of claims adjusters are is not unique to that line of work though - we're all in that same boat of the perpetual digital reality.

The expectation of immediacy and instant gratification that the digital revolution has produced is overwhelming the ability of humans to engage in daily operations with any sense of civility.

Life is not Facebook, dammit!

Pew Research Center reports that while 90% of Americans have a cell phone, 58% of them are smartphones.

And because people are urinating and texting, or engaging more within a digital network rather than a human one, mental health professionals are labeling this addictive behavior "nomophobia" (short for no-mobile-phone phobia).

This digital addiction includes symptoms such as feelings of panic or desperation when separated from the smartphone, inability to focus on conversations or work, and constantly checking phones for notifications.

According to experts, some people may think their phone is ringing when it's not, a condition named cellphone vibration syndrome, a more serious technology addiction.

Researchers say there's a brain-based physiological explanation.

"Every time you get a notification from your phone, there's a little elevation in dopamine that says you might have something that's compelling, whether that's a text message from someone you like, an email, or anything," Dr. David Greenfield, an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, told Business Insider, an online publication. "The thing is you don't know what it's going to be or when you're going to get it, and that's what compels the brain to keep checking. It's like the world's smallest slot machine."

A Harris Interactive survey in the fall of 2013 found that 63% of respondents report checking their phone for messages or calls once an hour, and 9% said they checked their phone every five minutes.

63% said they would be upset if they left home without their smartphone.

The mental health community is now debating whether to include the "disease" in the Diagnostics & Statistics Manual - the diagnosis bible in the psych world.

I did a search in the WorkCompCentral database to see if there were any reports or cases involving someone claiming injury (mental or physical) by getting addicted to phone usage as a consequence of work.

None so far, but I'm sure we'll see one eventually.

In the meantime, please, don't text and ... whatever ...

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