Phubbing – Do Smartphones Make You Rude? How to Avoid This Faux Pas

phubbing is unsocial

You’re talking to someone when he looks at his cell phone. You’re irritated- why? You’ve been phubbed! Learn about phubbing, and how to minimize it.

The word “phubbing” is a blend of the words phone and snubbing. It comes from a marketing campaign for an Australian dictionary publisher. But what started as an advertising stunt has produced a widely accepted word.

A History of Phubbing

In the summer of 2013, an Australian advertising company hatched a new campaign for the “Macquarie Dictionary,” which contains standard “Australian English.”  This team of language experts coined the “phubbing” term as a way to highlight the importance of dictionaries.

They created a fictional story featuring the character, 23-year-old student Alex Haigh, as a way to launch an anti-phubbing campaign in social networks like Facebook. They also made a matching website with fictitious facts. On you can read anecdotes like this:

“Imagine couples sitting together in silence in the future. Relationships based on status updates. The ability to speak or communicate face-to-face – completely destroyed. Something must be done – and it must be done now!”

The Problem of Phubbing

There’s more to phubbing than the initial ad campaign. Researchers have been observing the phenomenon of people dealing more with a mobile phone than listening attentively to another person. Until this ingenious campaign, there really hadn’t been a term for this, so not surprisingly, the term phubbing went viral. Now it’s a serious word.

British professor of psychology, Phil Reed, has been working on the subject for some time. He assumes that phubbing is a side effect of mobile phone or internet addiction:

“It is not clear whether people are addicted to smartphones, although the existence of phantom vibration when we mistakenly think that the mobile phone is vibrating, suggests a form of dependence. What is clearer, however, is that people are addicted to what the smartphone can do – internet, social networks, and so on.”

We don’t know how much phubbing happens today, but we do know that social relationships suffer when a person always has to play second fiddle to something else. Losing out to a machine, rather than an actual person, is even worse! This frustration can lead to fighting and broken relationships.

Sometimes, spending time with someone in a state of wordlessness or a lack of human interaction can lead to loneliness or isolation in the long run. Who wants to meet with someone who always stares silently at the display?

Too Many Phubbing Problems

There are many reasons to take a critical look at your internet consumption. Are you neglecting friends, family or your relationship because of your social networking? Does it bother you that your friends are always typing?

Then consciously insert phubbing-free times. When you meet your friends, put all your devices in the silent mode and keep them out of range. Have smartphone-free times for the family, like when you’re sitting down to have a meal together.

In addition to strained relationships, phubbing can also cause problematic physical side effects. Constant cell phone viewing is wreaking havoc on our posture and spine health. Overuse is also contributing to rising rates of carpal tunnel syndrome since our wrists were not designed to hold cell phones for hours a day!

Phubbing might also increase your ecological footprint. The Digital Power Group found that a wireless connection with a data volume of 2.8 gigabytes consumes more energy than a standard refrigerator.

Where Do We Go From Here? Ways to Stop Phubbing

If you have been reading this article, and realize that you are guilty of phubbing, you’ve come to the right place! Recognizing a problem is a valuable step to getting help. Here are four quick tips to managing cell phone etiquette:

  1. When you are with a friend, colleague, or family member, put your mobile device away. Don’t let various urgent tasks get in the way of what’s truly important. Investments we make in other people’s lives, often by face-to-face interactions, are important.
  2. Try leaving your phone in your car or don’t even take it with you when you’re out and about. If checking your phone is too big of a temptation, just don’t take it with you. You might be surprised at how free you feel without it!
  3. Ask your friends and family to keep you accountable. If you have a phubbing problem, have people help you stop. They could even send you a FamilyApp message if you’re looking at your phone, instead of engaging in conversation!
  4. Counteract phubbing posture with exercise. Regular exercise has countless physical and social benefits. In addition to strengthening the muscles, fitness studios or organized activities can also be a great way to meet new people outside of the virtual world.

Just keep those phubbing distractions to a minimum!

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