Are you guilty of “Phubbing?”

Graphic+by+Abir+Khan.
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Are you guilty of “Phubbing?”

Graphic by Abir Khan.

Graphic by Abir Khan.

Graphic by Abir Khan.

Graphic by Abir Khan.

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Phubbing. It sounds like a made-up term, something that may be used as slang or possibly found on Urban Dictionary. However, it is in fact an entirely real word. The word was invented when a lexicologist, phonetician, debate champion, poet, and cruciverbalist – yes, a professional crossword solver – gathered at the University of Sydney, Australia in 2012 as part of a marketing ploy for a new edition of the Macquarie Dictionary.  The group was looking for a word to describe the act of ignoring those around you in favor of your phone. Originally coined as “phone snubbing,” the term caught on fast- it sparked worldwide discussion and there were multiple articles published online on the topic. The campaign even led to a scientific study to observe the effects of phubbing on relationships, and a website created to try and stop phubbing.

It has become a common occurrence to see people engaged with their phones instead of engaged with each other. You walk past tables at a restaurant and see two people clicking away on their mobile devices while waiting for their food to arrive. There are advertisements where a couple is shown to be phone snubbing each other at mealtime. Parents are constantly clicking away on their mobile devices in front of their young children, which poses a problem because kids observe and imitate their parents, and consequently two year olds are operating tablets and iPhones. More children are exhibiting antisocial behavior at a young age because of the lack of interaction in favor of technology. “I do think that phubbing is becoming a problem because it kinda disconnects people from having a real conversation,” senior Janne Brown said.

Sophomore Romaana Pasha agrees with what others have to say. “People are always on their phones and I see them ignoring their friends just to go on social media.” Ask yourself: have you ever been phubbed before? Ignored for a text message or social media? Nearly everyone has been in this situation at some point: you’re hanging out with a friend or your partner and while you’re in the middle of a conversation they pull out their phone and start tapping away at the screen. You continue talking for a bit, but slowly trail off when you realize they are no longer paying attention. They might motion for you to go on or tell you to continue, but they are still staring at their screen and you know any attempts to get back their attention or finish your conversation are futile.

So, are you a phubber? It definitely doesn’t feel great when you’re being phubbed, but the funny thing is that many of us have been the person who takes out their phone while someone is talking. “I have taken out my phone [in the middle of the conversation],” Brown admits. People may not be aware of it, but the truth is that phubbing is getting in the way of our daily interactions and relationships with other people. As we become more connected online, we become disconnected with the people around us in the real world. We sideline personal relationships to deal with online ones.

There are steps that can be taken to ensure that no one is getting distracted by their phones or being phubbed. “We can just tell each other,” sophomore Romaana Pasha said. “I would just tell [them] ‘can I just talk to you? It’s serious, I actually don’t want to be interrupted.’”

“I feel like if you’re in a group setting, you just basically tell the person, ‘Hey, this person’s talking, maybe you should pay attention.’ Just try to make sure people are being respectful to others and not dismissing them by taking out their phones,” Brown added.

Next time you feel compelled to sneak an innocuous little peek at your phone, try to remember that the people around you are more important than any app you have, and resist the temptation.