Look around you. Whether you’re sitting at a campfire, doing laundry in the campground laundromat, or on the road traveling, you’ll probably see others phubbing. In fact, there’s a good chance you’re phubbing as well! What is phubbing? And why should you avoid it? Read on to find out.
What is phubbing?
“Phubbing” is a relatively new word. I hadn’t heard it before and wondered what it might be. Turns out phubbing is a combination of two familiar words: phone and snubbing. The Oxford Dictionary defines phubbing as: “The practice of ignoring one’s companion(s) in order to pay attention to one’s phone or other mobile device.”
It probably won’t surprise you to learn that teens and young adults are the groups that phub most often. I’ll see them in restaurants. Perhaps you’ve witnessed this, too. Although they’ve presumably come together to enjoy each other’s company, there just isn’t much interaction going on. Instead, every person intently studies their phone.
Full-grown adults are also phubbing more as time goes by. Family members phub one another more often than they use their phones while conversing with co-workers. Friends phub one another more often than they do strangers.
The phenomenon of phubbing is not isolated to the U.S. Studies have been done throughout the world. Phubbing is everywhere! It’s in rural areas as well as larger cities and across economic lines, as well.
What causes phubbing?
- Boredom. This is one reason we bring out our cell phones while engaged in another activity. If you’ve phubbed while watching television, it’s probably because the programming isn’t holding your attention.
- Avoidance. This is another reason folks phub. Perhaps the conversation is uncomfortable or threatening. The phone provides a safe escape in these instances.
- Habit. Phubbing can become habitual. For some, whenever they sit down or stand still—even for a moment or two—they pull out their phone to check social media, play online games, text, and more.
Downsides of phubbing
Remember what Dad said way back when? “Just because everyone is doing it, doesn’t make it right.” In fact, phubbing can disrupt what might have been a meaningful conversation. Conversations are necessary to build and maintain relationships. Even sharing the phone with your companion disrupts the communication between the two of you.
When you phub, you are essentially removing yourself from the connection you have with people around you. We’ve all been in situations when someone in the group pulls out his/her phone and suddenly the conversation comes to a halt. The phubber is no longer involved in the discussion. They’ve removed themselves from interacting with the group. People within the group may feel insulted or angry at the person phubbing.
Phubbing can hurt loved ones who may believe the phubber places a higher priority on connecting with something or someone on their phone. In short, the phone is more important than the person you’re with at the time. No one likes to play second fiddle—especially to funny cat videos, Facebook, or a game of solitaire.
Breaking the habit
It is possible to stop phubbing. Here are some suggestions.
- Leave the phone in your pocket/purse. Don’t even place it on a nearby table or your lap. In fact, having your cell phone in another room altogether might be the best idea. Restricting access to your phone may help you stop phubbing.
- Talk about it. If your spouse or travel partner consistently phubs, tell them how phubbing makes you feel. Don’t judge or get angry. Use words like, “I love it when we can really talk to each other. Sometimes the phone gets in the way of our conversations. How can we fix that?”
- Dedicate no-phone areas. Think about the places that are most conducive to meaningful conversation, like the bedroom or dining table. Plan to keep these agreed-upon areas phone-free.
Do you know a phubber? In your opinion, is phubbing a problem or not? Let us know how you feel in the comments below.