Ringxiety, or

Ringxiety, or “phantom ring”

Ringxiety – what’s that?
It’s when you’re sure you’ve heard your mobile phone ring, but it hasn’t.

That’s not as serious as it sounded
No, it isn’t.

Some people call it “phantom ring”, and others just refer to it as “thinking my phone has gone off when it actually hasn’t”. But ringxiety makes it sound like “it’s a real disease, with doctors and medicine and everything”.

So is it just when you hear someone else’s phone ring and you think it’s yours?
It’s not actually that straightforward a mistake. It can be hearing your phone ring when no phones have rung, or feeling it vibrate in your pocket when it hasn’t. It’s not mistaking the ring of another phone, but another noise or sensation entirely.

So why is ringxiety a thing?
Partly it’s the silly season, partly because it’s something that many of us recognise in ourselves, and surprisingly partly because it can actually teach us some useful things about how our minds work.

So when do people hear it?
Quite often when listening to music, watching television, or in places with confusing background noise. Partly that’s because our brains are very good at imposing patterns. Imposing the sound of a ringtone on other noise is just an extension of that process, called apophenia.

Are there any other reasons?
As well as imposing patterns, our hearing is particularly sensitive to sounds between 1,000 and 6,000 hertz. As well as babies’ cries and cats’ meows this also includes most ringtones. So not only are they more sensitive to those sounds, but it’s been claimed that people with ringxiety are more anxious.

Is that really true?
The study this claim is based on was of just 411 people, all of whom had issues around emotional attachment or avoidance in relationships. People with attachment anxiety were up to 18% more likely to hear phantom ringing. It was claimed that “ringxiety may result in both immediate and longer term negative health effects, including headache, stress, and sleep disturbances,”

That sounds bad
It’s more likely anxiety is at the root of the headaches, stress, and sleep problems. Ringxiety is more likely an indicator of general anxiety at worst, rather than the cause of illness.

So I don’t need to worry if I mistakenly hear my phone ring?
No, you don’t.

Because it’s just a fauxcellarm?
And I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that.

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