Are you a nomophobe?

Or maybe you suffer from sleep texting or glass eye. Welcome to a new world of mobile maladies

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The solution is to minimize the use of Glass in dim or dark places. It would also be nice if Google auto-dimmed the screen in Glass in response to the ambient light.

Turtleneck syndrome

Unless your arms are leaning on a table, there's no natural way to look at a smartphone other than holding your arms up, which is uncomfortable, or craning your neck down, which causes turtleneck syndrome, a kind of repetitive stress injury of the neck from craning your neck down to look at your smartphone for long periods of time.

As with all things smartphone, and the maladies that go with them, South Korea is way ahead on this one.

Phantom vibration syndrome

Have you ever felt your phone vibrate and then reached for it only to discover that it's not even there? If so, you're suffering from phantom vibration syndrome.

It's a relatively harmless malady, but one already common and sure to grow in prevalence.

The reason is that wearable computing devices, from Google Glass-like eyewear to smartwatches to clip-on computers, will increasingly use haptics, or vibrations, as a means of sending alerts to users.

In the case of Google Glass, alerts are sent via bone conduction, so you both "hear" and feel the alert. Google Glass users tell me they sometimes "feel" phantom vibrations of bone conduction alerts that never actually happened.

Smartwatches will rely heavily on vibration to send alerts, and we'll feel these vibrations even when we're not wearing a smartwatch.

'Success theater'-induced low self-esteem

Nobody reveals an accurate picture of their actual lives on social media. They omit the bickering, boring and unflattering aspects of their lives in favor of the fabulous moments.

The downside of this "success theater" is that daily exposure to, say, the Facebook News Feed leaves people feeling inadequate. That constant barrage of other people's best moments creates the illusion that everyone else in the world is living these wonderful lives filled with success and joy and adventure while you're sitting there, well, looking at Facebook.

A snappier name for "success-theater-induced low self-esteem" is "Facebook depression," though that's unfair to Facebook. The same phenomenon occurs on other sites like Google+, Instagram and Pinterest.

Selfie narcissism

It has somehow become normal to take a picture of yourself and post it online for no other reason than to say: "Hey, look at me!"

Consider the now very popular Instagram profile of a guy with the username "mrpimpgoodgame," the self-described "leader of the selfie movement." Every picture is the same selfie. (He even sells T-shirts.)

Selfie narcissism is similar to mirror addiction, where people compulsively look at themselves in the mirror. The difference is that selfie narcissism is publicly and socially acceptable, thanks to the shameless example of ubiquitous celebrity culture.

There's no question that smartphones and other mobile gadgets are wonderful, useful and powerful additions to our lives. But they're also causing problems.

The best news is that these problems are preventable. The solution? In general, it's a good idea to take breaks from your gadgets once in a while.

Mike Elgan writes about technology and tech culture. You can contact Mike and learn more about him on Google+. You can also see more articles by Mike Elgan on

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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