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Phubbing: Why It’s the Rudest Thing You Could Ever Do to Someone

Phubbing

Don’t know what phubbing is? Even if you don’t, you are probably doing it. And that’s not a good thing. Here’s why phubbing is bad and how to stop.

Maybe you’re heard of it, and maybe you haven’t. But here’s what phubbing is: ignoring the person you are with because you are on your phone. It comes from putting the words “phone” and “snubbing” together.

Doesn’t sound too bad, does it? I mean, pretty much everyone does it these days, so what’s wrong with it? Hey, it’s just become a social norm. Well, yes, yes, it has. But just because it’s a social norm, does that make it okay? Or good? Or helpful? There are tons of social norms that do not make our lives better.

They key here is awareness. I’m not saying that all people who engage in phubbing are bad human beings. They are probably perfectly nice people. However, the problem is that they don’t know that their behavior has a negative effect on other people.

Why phubbing is bad

Most people are not conscious of their behavior, and more importantly, the consequences of said behavior. So, it’s most likely that if you are guilty of phubbing, you might not have given it any thought as to why it’s bad. So, let’s take a look at this list, and then you’ll find out why.

#1 It is rude. Let’s say you are out with a friend for dinner. You haven’t seen each other for a while, and you have a lot to catch up on. But instead of listening to you – and I mean really listening – they have their phone on the table and look at it every time it goes off.

And, on top of that, they don’t even apologize and say, “Oh gosh, I’m so sorry, but I need to respond to this text/take this call because it’s super important. Then I’ll put it away.” [Read: Stop the craziness in life – How to deal with rude people]

Instead, they just expect you to sit there and wait patiently until they are done talking to whoever is on the other end of their phone. How does that make you feel? Well, it should make you feel like crap. Because what they’re really saying with that phubbing behavior is, “You don’t matter to me as much as the other person on my phone.” It’s just plain rude.

#2 You have no empathy. So, in the above scenario *which happens all the time*, you may or may not even be annoyed with them. Maybe you’re so guilty of phubbing too that you don’t even notice it. But you should. Because it’s not thinking about the other person.

Hey, if they are spending time with you in person, it’s usually because they want to be with you and talk to YOU. And if you’re ignoring them, then you are not seeing it from their point of view, which is the definition of empathy. Have some respect and empathy for the person you’re with and stop phubbing.

#3 It shows you value technology over people. Hey, you might not even be talking to someone else at the other end of your phone. You might just be surfing the internet or mindlessly scrolling through Facebook.

Either way, the outcome is the same – you are not paying attention to the person you’re with. You’re valuing technology more than the person who has graced you with their presence. [Read: 10 simple tips to avoid being rude in any situation]

#4 You lose your social skills. If you don’t use it, you lose it. We all know that’s true of a lot of things like, say, your muscles. The more you work out, the bigger they get. The same is true of anything – even social skills. The more you resort to “communicating” through technology and not face-to-face, the worse you’ll get at it.

#5 No one likes it. I know, I know, many people will say they really don’t care and that it’s just normal for someone to be phubbing.

But come on, people! Be honest. Do you like to be ignored by other people? I know I don’t! I deserve people’s attention and respect. And so, I expect it from them. I have literally stopped hanging out with some friends because of their phubbing habits. It’s awful.

#6 It disconnects people. How do you expect to have good, quality relationships with people if you don’t really connect with them face-to-face? You can’t. It will only lead to more and more disconnection from our fellow human beings.

You can’t have a great relationship with someone when you spend 99% of your time on the phone when you’re together. You just can’t. [Read: Selfish people – 15 ways to spot and stop them from hurting you]

How to stop phubbing

I hope by now that you are at least a little horrified by reading this. Whether you’re the one guilty of constant phubbing, or you’re surrounded by people who do it, you *and they* can stop. It just takes a little effort. So here are some tips for how to stop phubbing.

#1 When you’re with someone – anyone – keep your phone in your purse or pocket. I know it will probably be hard for you to do this if you have the habit of keeping it out 24/7. But really, it’s not that difficult. Just don’t take it out! Period. Simple. End of story. You can do it. I know you can!

#2 Never, ever have your phone nearby during meal times. Let’s say you have a family or roommates that you eat with. Hey, don’t bring your phone to the table.

Leave it in your bedroom or somewhere else. Have everyone in the house do it so that you are all phone-free and won’t be tempted to engage in phubbing. [Read: Selfishness in relationships – 15 tips to do the right thing]

#3 Have self-control. I know it’s difficult to break habits. Anyone who has tried to lose weight and work out more knows that! But anything – even phubbing – can be stopped. But it all starts with you. You just have to monitor your behavior and stop yourself.

#4 Hold yourself accountable. This goes hand in hand with having self-control. You need to develop awareness of how and when *and how often* you use your phone when you’re with other people. You have to be conscious of your habits, and hold yourself accountable for your actions.

#5 Have others hold you accountable. If you’re not so good at holding yourself accountable, then enlist the help of your friends and family. Tell them you’re trying to stop phubbing, and that they should too. It should be a team effort. If everyone stops phubbing, then it won’t be tempting to look at your phone like it would otherwise, because you’re all in it together.

[Read: 12 signs you’re the selfish one in your relationship]

I know that phubbing has become the norm, but it doesn’t have to be. Don’t you think it’s time that you be the better person and start modeling good behavior for others? Trust me, it will be worth it.

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Dr. Carol Morgan
Dr. Carol Morgan
Dr. Carol Morgan has a Ph.D. in communication and is a professor at Wright State University where she loves corrupting young minds. As a relationship and succes...

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