I’ve experienced this sensation before. I feel like my phone is vibrating when it is not. Apparently this is an actual “syndrome.”
Phantom vibration — that phenomenon where you think your phone is vibrating but it’s not — has only been around since the mobile age. And five years ago, when its wider existence became recognized, news organizations, including ours, covered the “syndrome” as a sign of the digital encroachment in our lives. Today, it’s so common that researchers have devoted studies to it.
Nearly 90 percent of college undergrads in a 2012 study said they felt phantom vibrations. The number was just as high for a survey of hospital workers, who reported feeling phantom vibrations between a weekly and monthly basis.
“Something in your brain is being triggered that’s different than what was triggered just a few short years ago,” says Dr. Larry Rosen, a research psychologist who studies how technology affects our minds.
For at least the last four years or so, my phone is always on silent,with no vibrations. The only time my phone makes noise is when someone calls me (this is increasingly rare–it’s usually my parents). I’ve found this helps to create a bit of a barrier between me and the phone. If I’m not looking at my phone, I have no idea if a message has arrived. It’s actually cathartic. I’ve gotten better about phone-etiquette, and now can make it through long stretches at dinner, or elsewhere, without even looking at it. The lack of any audio or vibrate notifications helps immensely.