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  • Writer's pictureIoana

Hey you! Stop phubbing

Updated: Nov 22, 2020

Gadgets have become so indispensable in our lives that it is difficult to imagine a day without the phone next to us. They make our lives easier, by bringing the information a click away, and most importantly, they keep us connected. Due to COVID, the social distancing made us realize how important friends and family are in our lives, therefore we should be grateful for applications such as Skype, Zoom or Google Hangouts that are helping us keep in touch.

Just imagine a pandemic without internet. Scary scenario, huh?

A concept that very few have heard of, but many of us recognize once we read its definition, is called phubbing (phone + snubbing = phubbing).

phubbing /ˈfʌbɪŋ/ noun

the practice of ignoring one's companion or companions in order to pay attention to one's phone or other mobile device. "phubbing is just one symptom of our increasing reliance on mobile phones and the internet"

(Definitions from Oxford Languages)

Despite the many benefits that gadgets offer, excessive consumption can bring real costs to our relationships. Several researchers (Mick and Fournier 1998; Lang and Jarvenpaa 2005; Turkle 2011) have observed that our 24-hour availability and easy access to technology has led to two paradoxes: (1) the present-absent paradox (alone-together) and ( 2) the freeing- enslaving paradox. Both paradoxes approach the way we communicate and relate to others;

In the present-absent paradox, although we are physically present (along with loved ones), our mind is elsewhere, because we are preoccupied with our smartphones.

In the freeing-enslaving paradox, smartphones give us the freedom to communicate with others, to have fun online, to work from distant locations and to access information from everywhere. But this freedom has a cost. Being always available leads to a sense of responsibility, or even obligation, to respond in a timely manner to the messages and notifications we receive. The truth is we live in a world of constant distraction.

McDaniel and Coyne (2014) found that 70% of women felt that smart-phones interfered in their romantic relationships. Also, Roberts and David (2016) show that the lack of attention to the partner, often in contrast to the attention given to the phone, is usually a reason for conflict in romantic relationships.

It is understandable why the mobile phone could create conflicts in our relationships. We could say that we compete to capture the partner's attention, but this time the competition is fierce, because social media networks, emails and news always come with something new.

We must not forget that we are "social animals", and when our partner's attention is elsewhere, due to a behavior such as phubbing, we often feel left out. It is normal to feel like this, but it is also is essential to share these thoughts with him/her.

Here's an article on how to improve your relationship with the loved ones by using Digital Wellbeing tactics.

See you soon & don't forget to embrace theJOMO



"Technoference": Everyday Intrusions and Interruptions of Technology in Couple and Family Relationships, 2015

How “phubbing” becomes the norm: The antecedents and consequences of snubbing via smartphone, 2016

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