What is Phantom Vibration Syndrome?


Introducing a New Video Series From Georgia Tech

What is phantom vibration syndrome? If black holes are invisible and emit no light, how can scientists see and study them? You’ve heard of science fiction, but what about “skiffy” (spoiler alert: flying sharks!)?

These are among the questions and topics Georgia Tech researchers will answer and address in the Institute’s new, bi-monthly video series: TECH+knowledge+Y.

Kicking off the series, Robert Rosenberger, assistant professor of Philosophy in the School of Public Policy, discusses the “phantom vibration syndrome.” The phantom phone vibration syndrome occurs when a person thinks his or her phone is ringing or vibrating from a text message when it actually is not. As a society increasingly dependent on mobile devices, the phantom vibrate easily becomes a phenomenon of worry for users.

What is Phantom Vibration Syndrome
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First up: those phantom phone vibrations in your pocket. Have you ever felt your cell phone vibrating, only to pull it out and see no reason for it? Watch the video to learn why.

Those among the worriers fear that the dependency on technology involves rewiring the brain and altering human behavior. Rosenberger says otherwise.

“There are ways to talk about technology without reducing everything to brain rewiring talk,” he says. “Yes, your brain’s involved, but your brain’s involved in everything. There's a weird scientific legitimacy that comes from saying it's changing your brain, as opposed to just claiming it’s changing your behavior or society. If I'm teaching you to drive, we wouldn't talk about brains. I would just say, OK, take hold of the steering wheel.”

He concludes that the tendency to check phones arises from basic human nature to obsess. For instance, constantly checking the driveway to see if a guest has arrived or a commuter straining to hear the arrival of a subway.