My girlfriend seems to view her smartphone as an extension of herself. Every time there's a lull in the conversation, she whips it out and starts browsing, Tweeting, or Facebooking. Aside from some general annoyance, I'm okay with this. I'm pretty attached to my phone as well, though less so than she is. Recently, though, on a weekend trip, she left her phone on the airplane, and, long story short, she didn't get it back. She was so distressed. She cried and was mopey the whole weekend. She's still kind of sad about it, a few weeks and a new phone later. Is this a sign of addiction? Should I worry about this kind of behavior over something so trivial as a phone?
We like to throw the word “addiction” around a lot. Some might say we're addicted to calling things addictions, but some people would also be hypocrites. It does seem like every week there's a new study bemoaning the dangers of video games, online gambling, or how much of our lives are spent begrudgingly adapting to the Facebook changes du jour. But last week in the New York Times, Michael Lindstrom claimed that these weighty feelings we give to our devices might be more akin to love than to addiction. In an fMRI experiment, Lindstrom tested subjects on whether responses to their phones signified brain-based signs of addiction, like gambling, drugs, or shopping. Instead, he found something else: