Why Do I Feel My Phone Vibrate Even When No One's Calling or Texting?

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iStock

A few months ago, I decided to give up on text message alerts. Not because I wasn’t interested in replying, but because I couldn’t handle having my phone vibrate at random. I had started experiencing “phantom vibrations,” the false sensation that your phone is vibrating. Unwilling to deal with constant pinging ringtones, and filled with disappointment and embarrassment every time I reached into my pocket to find that my brain had invented the sensation of a vibrating alert, I opted to merely mute everything.

It worked. I no longer feel that phantom phone itch in my leg or where the bottom of my purse brushes against my body. (As it turns out, very few texts are actually urgent.)

I’m not the only person who hallucinates that someone is trying to communicate with me. Psychologist David Laramie dubbed the feeling “ringxiety” in his 2007 dissertation on mobile phone use and behavior, but it wasn’t invented with the cell phone. In 1996, ”phantom-pager syndrome” made an appearance in a Dilbert strip. The phenomenon has since been studied across age ranges, professions, and cultures.

A 2012 study of 290 Indiana undergraduates found that 89 percent had experienced some degree of phantom phone vibration, averaging about once every two weeks. Nor is it limited to phone-obsessed college kids. A study of hospital staffers, who are frequently tethered to pagers and phones at work, found that 68 percent of the 176 workers surveyed experienced phantom vibrations.

It’s not just vibrations, either. Laramie’s 2007 study of 320 adults found evidence for aural hallucinations, too—two-thirds of the participants actually thought they heard their phone ringing.

But why people feel vibrations where there are none is still up for debate. In the 2010 hospital worker study, the Massachusetts-based researchers hypothesized that the phantom signals “may result from a misinterpretation of incoming sensory signals by the cerebral cortex.” They continue:

In order to deal with the overwhelming amount of sensory input, the brain applies filters or schema based on what it expects to find, a process known as hypothesis guided search. In the case of phantom vibrations, because the brain is anticipating a call, it misinterprets sensory input according to this preconceived hypothesis. The actual stimulus is unknown, but candidate sensations might include pressure from clothing, muscle contractions, or other sensory stimuli.

Recently, a University of Michigan phone study posited that ringxiety is linked to insecurity. The 2016 study found that people with attachment anxiety (who are insecure in personal relationships) were more likely to experience frequent phantom vibrations. This seems to make sense: If you’re insecure in your romantic relationship, you’re probably more likely to obsess about whether or not your partner is texting you. Expecting a message or call, or being particularly concerned about something that you might be contacted about, was further associated with phantom alerts.

However, most studies have found that only a tiny fraction of people are seriously bothered by the phantom signals—typically around 2 percent of the populations examined [PDF]. In the Indiana study, “few [participants] found them bothersome,” the researchers noted. The hospital workers studied didn’t, either. Many reported phantom-vibration sufferers didn’t try to do anything about it. Others successfully rid themselves of the sensation: Of the 115 hospital workers who experienced phantom vibrations, 43 attempted to stop it by taking their device off vibrate or carrying it in a different place, with 75 percent and 63 percent success rates, respectively.

The best way to rid yourself of phantom vibrations, it seems, is to be a super secure person with no social anxieties. Or, you could just try moving your phone to a different pocket. 

Tesla Drivers Now Have Access to a Library of Fart Sounds in Their Car

Spencer Platt, Getty Images
Spencer Platt, Getty Images

Tesla’s latest software update includes more than just a few technical tweaks. It also turns the electric vehicles into on-demand fart machines, according to Inverse.

Tesla’s Emissions Testing Mode lets drivers choose different fart sounds from the car’s touchscreen, giving electric-car owners a good sense of Elon Musk’s sense of toilet humor. There’s “Short Shorts Ripper,” “Falcon Heavy,” Ludicrous Fart,” Neurastink,” “Boring Fart,” and “Not a Fart,” all of which are named after some Musky in-joke. (The last one is a play on the Boring Company’s Not a Flamethrower.) Should drivers find it impossible to choose between all the sound effects, the “I’m so random” will shuffle through them automatically.

Users can program the fart sounds to play when a turn signal is activated or when the driver touches the left-side steering scroll wheel. You can see/hear it in action in a Tesla Model S here.

Farting functionality isn’t the only whimsical edition to the software. At this point, Tesla's in-car software comes with a variety of Easter eggs for users to unlock, including games, special lighting effects, and more. In addition to all the flatulence, this update includes a Romance Mode that brings up video of a cozy, crackling fire on the central console and prompts the car to blast the heat and turn on some sensual tunes.

[h/t Inverse]

Warning: Don't Fall for the New Netflix Phishing Scam Going Around

iStock.com/wutwhanfoto
iStock.com/wutwhanfoto

In addition to catching up on Stranger Things and kicking ex-roommates off your account, you now have something else to worry about if you're a Netflix user. As WYFF 4 reports, there's a phishing scam circulating through email that targets subscribers to the streaming service.

The email is formatted to look like an official message from Netflix, with the company's logo at the top. It informs you that "your account is on hold," and that you need to update your payment information before service can resume.

But law officials are warning web users not to click the link in the email, or in any emails that come from unfamiliar sources. "Criminals want you to click the links, so that you voluntarily give your personal identifying information away. It is very successful," the Solon, Ohio police department shared in a Facebook post. "Don't click the links. The links could also be a way to install malware on your computer."

The phishing email contains a few clues that it's not legitimate: It lists an international phone number, uses the British spelling of centre, and opens with the unusual greeting "Hi Dear."

But even without these giveaways, you should always be wary of emails that ask for personal information, even if they appear to come from companies that you trust. According to Netflix, communications emails will always come from the address info@mailer.netflix.com. If you receive a message from this address (or an address that looks like it), and aren't sure if it's trustworthy, you can always go to Netflix and reach out to customer service about the problem directly.

[h/t WYFF 4]

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