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That's right: 'phantom vibration syndrome' is a real thing

That's right: 'phantom vibration syndrome' is a real thing

January 6, 2016

I’m sure we’ve all been there: you feel your iPhone vibrate in your pocket, you reach for it, and then discover that in fact there’s no missed notification. Is Apple’s iOS playing up? Did you accidentally dismiss it? Or did no notification reach your handset in the first place? Well, according to a recent video (via the New York Post), if you’ve experienced (and re-experienced) this kind of curious event, you’re not alone. “Phantom vibration syndrome” is a real thing, and a significant number of smartphone users suffer with it.

Did you feel that?

You can find out more about the psychological phenomenon in the below video, in which Georgia Tech School of Public Policy professor Robert Rosenberger describes the curious condition in detail. In psychological terms he calls phantom vibrations a “learned body habit,” and something our iPhone-obsessed minds have naturally come to expect from our much-loved, $600 handsets.

The professor explains:

The phone actually becomes a part of you, and you become trained to perceive the phone’s vibrations as an incoming call or text. Due to these kinds of habits, it becomes really easy to misperceive other similar sensations.

Paradoxically, the more you use (and rely) on your iPhone, the stronger this psychological miscue becomes. In the end, we’ll all be suffering phantom vibrations every couple of minutes, day in, day out (heck, some of us could already have reached this stage). And you might think one solution would be to get an Apple Watch and have haptic notifications delivered at the wrist, but let me tell you as one who knows: phantom notifications can, and do, plague smart watch users, too.

Check out the video and see for yourself:

Is this something you’ve experienced? The machines really are taking over.