If you own a smartphone or know someone who does, you have either been a phubber at some point or have been phubbed – a trend that isn’t really a new phenomenon.
The 21st century has essentially been an era of distraction, but with modern mobile phones and their myriad of apps, services, and notifications, the lack of concentration in humans has taken a new form altogether.
People nowadays are so fascinated by the “digital social life” that they tend to forsake their social etiquettes in real life in favor of spending time in the virtual world.
One 2016 study published in the Science Direct found that more than 17 percent of people phub others at least four times a day. Almost 32 percent of people report being phubbed two to three times a day.
What is phubbing?
The word “phubbing” was coined in 2021 from the words “Phone” and “Snubbing;” the latter meaning refusing to look. The word was created by an Australian advertising agency to describe the growing phenomenon of the frustrating act of ignoring or even interrupting a conversation to glance at the phone.
So essentially, instead of showing interest in what someone else is saying, one is essentially more interested in whatever is going on their smartphones. In the millennial lingo, people phub because they don’t want to suffer from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).
Phubbing is seen to be ruining all kinds of relationships. And with more than three-quarters of Americans owning a smartphone, the problem of phubbing is just getting worse. Another study found that phubbing also wrecked marriages. Conflicts over phones created issues between couples, and phubbing leads to spouses experiencing higher rates of depression.
Does phubbing affect mental health?
When you are at the receiving end of being phubbed rather than being a phubber, the effect of the phenomenon is greater. This is because you may feel rejected, excluded, and not important, which can have a significant negative impact on your mental health.
Phubbing threatens the four “fundamental needs” of a human, and those are: 1) belongingness, 2) self-esteem, 3) meaningful existence, and 4) control. When a person is phubbed, there are higher chances for that person to want to login to social media, either to distract themselves from the negative thoughts or for self-validation, which again turns into a vicious cycle.
And in a way, social media actually makes the problem worse, as studies have shown that it can make people feel depressed and give a person anxiety.
How do you know that you are a phubber?
While you might have noticed your partner phubbing at times, you might have realized that you do the same thing at other times, which makes you a phubber. If you still want that self-realization, consider the following points. If any of them holds true, you will get your answer.
- While having a conversation face to face with someone, you tend to check out your phone when it rings or some notification pops up.
- You cannot complete your dinner without using your phone at least once, and you carry that device everywhere as your life depends on it.
- You call handling a conversation or replying to a text on your phone and one with a person in front of you “multitasking.”
- No matter what we are doing, you keep an eye on your phone screen.
How to stop phubbing?
Just because you might be addicted to the internet a little too much does not mean that you can’t learn other ways to check in with social media without having to phub all the time. You can try the following ways to stop phubbing:
1. Own up to your phubbing
If you are sitting right across from your partner and you say, “huh?” when he/she asks you about your day, your partner will be justified in making you sleep on the couch. So there is no point in denying that you have a phubbing problem. It is always wise, to be honest about it and make amends to fix it.
2. No-phone zone during meals
It does not matter if you are enjoying a meal at the restaurant or spending some family time at the dinner table at home. Just make it a rule not to use your mobile phones when consuming meals. Not only that, ensure that your phone is on the ‘do not disturb’ mode because the buzz is going to make following the rules more difficult.
Instead, try to spend each meal engaging with the people in front of you and having a sincere conversation. Soon enough, you will not feel the urge to look at your phone frequently and instead feel more comfortable having a face-to-face conversation.
Challenge yourself to stop the phubbing cycle
The phubbing cycle can be broken, but you have to be willing to take the first step to do it. If you feel like you are being phubbed, fight the urge to dive into your phone right away. Instead of scrolling away on your phone, use the precious minutes to look at something nice. If it’s nice weather outside, take time to appreciate nature or even use the time to self-reflect.