This isn’t something new I’ve noticed. But it was recently something I experienced on a larger scale.
Phubbing (short for phone snubbed) is when you want to avoid someone or talking to someone by being on your phone – whether that’s playing games, texting, being on social media, listening to music, etc. Sometimes it’s pretending to be on your phone and sometimes its actually being on your phone. The reasoning is the same.
Is this phenomenon just bad manners or something that’s ingrained into our daily lives? I’m not sure and it’s hard to make an argument without taking a lot of different factors into account.
Perhaps there is an increase in antisocial behaviors? Maybe mannerisms matter less? Or maybe our phones are just where our lives are most important right now. I can’t say, And I won’t say what I think is happening. But I did want to share what I’ve seen and open a discussion about this phenomenon.
Bad Manners or Just Being Alone?
The first thing I have noticed is that a lot of people are walking around with headphones – in stores, at home, and on the streets. The could be listening to music on their commute, podcasts, or holding a conversation. But when does wearing headphones become less of a needed activity to relieve boredom or educate and more of a social prevention technique?
I was privy to a discussion about whether or not people liked being bothered while browsing in stores, The suggestion was “just put on headphones” so that people leave you alone. A majority of people who were in this conversation agreed,
“I wear headphones all the time and no one bothers me” said one of the women in this group.
That got me thinking about why we choose our phones as a way to avoid socializaition – even if there’s soliciting going on, Is it truly easier to pretend to be doing something rather than saying “no, thank you”?
The answer is a resounding YES. A lot of people I have spoken to just want to avoid talking to other people to begin with,
I am not one to judge if you choose not to talk to someone or have an anxiety, depression, or antisocial disorders. But what has happened to being present? What has happened to just learning how to tell someone “No”?
I choose not to wear headphones in public for safety reasons. I have seen too many phones, purses, and backpacks being stolen while people were busy listening to their headphones and not hearing someone come up behind them. I have also seen someone get seriously hurt by crossing the street and looking down at their phones while listening to something. They didn’t look up to see the light had changed and a car turned sharply. I have witnessed enough to know I wouldn’t like any of that to happen to me.
Which leads me to the word “Phubbing” and another scenario we have probably all been guilty of at one point or the other…
When We “Phub” With Others We Know
A lot of people phub on public transport and waiting in line for something. It’s easier to be on your phone rather than looking at someone in a tight space or looking out the window (provided you even have one to look at). I’m sure before phones were around, people preoccupied themselves by looking down at books.
But what about the root of phubbing? What about actively being on your phone while in the company of friends, family, and acquittances – especially if you have taken the time to sit with them for lunch or at a party,
A study was done where friends met together and one of them phubbed the other by being on the phone most of the time. That study showed that people who were “phubbed” by their friends experienced moods of low self-esteem and negativity. (Source) They also likely lost a bit of respect for the person they were supposed to hangout with, There was also a study down in with romantic parternships were put through the “phubbing” test and that study concluded a negative impact on the relationship as well as an indirect impact that decreased overall life satisfaction. (Source)
Ouch is right.
My Own Phubbing Experiences
Obviously not counting the times I have been in public where people phubbed around me, I have had a few experiences in which I had been phubbed by friends or new acquaintances that have left me feeling quite sad – which is why I would never do this to someone else and not even in public.
I remember numerous times with a former group of friends where I would be invited or invite them only to be surrounded by them being on their phones while I tried my best to catch up with them,
“So what’s new with you? How are your classes going?” I asked and the answer was usually “fine yeah” as they texted other people or worse, texted people in the same room.
I always thought I might have been a bit of a bore but honestly, it was never the case. When you’re with people who couldn’t care about a word you say, it’s not you, it’s them.
The other experience I recently had was being phubbed at a small blogger meet up, There were maybe 12 of us and I think 10 people were just on their phones as the speaker was talking about the brand that was sponsoring the event. That was very awkward.
Another experience was something I saw – a group of 12 people sitting down to dinner for a birthday party (lots of birthday balloons) and within 4 minutes of sitting down, the whole table was quietly doing something on their phones. It was such a weird thing to watch and I wouldn’t have known what to do if I was there – join them? or say something?
What Do You Think?
The fact of the matter is we are all guilty of doing this and are addicted to our phones and social media. But when is it appropriate? Where do we draw the line between being rude or trying to not attract attention to ourselves?
Is preventing phubbing a lost cause or even something that should be prevented?
I asked my younger brother what he thought about phubbing (he sees it more often since he is in college)
“I don’t do it when I’m with friends but I do phub around when waiting in an office, riding the train or something. I mean, no one is going to talk to me. But yeah, a lot of my friends do it and it sucks”
What do you think about “phubbing”? Have you ever done it or had it done to you? Do you think it’s bad manners or just something we have to accept? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.