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Are You Being Phubbed?

There is a new verb in existence: “phubbing”. The action of phubbing those around you by constantly looking at your phone (portmanteau word: phone/snubbing). I find it deeply disturbing that such a verb even needs to exist. You too?

First coined as a term by an Australian advertising agency in 2012 (reference McCann Australia), it seems to have become a common phenomenon and, whilst the term itself is probably not in your daily vocabulary, the awareness of it most likely is. Perhaps you do it too? So, if you are also the culprit, or know someone who is, is it affecting your relationships and, worse, your own emotional health?

According to a study done by The Journal of Applied Social Psychology the implied lack of respect and concern for the other person whilst phubbing is insidious and mostly sub-conscious.
The study found that phubbing can be felt as a threat to four of the “fundamental human needs” (reference: Maslow’s Hierarchy). Those core needs are:
• belonging
• self-esteem
• meaningful existence
• control

Did you notice me?

When someone phubs you, you are very likely to feel rejected, excluded, disrespected; just not important. And, over time, that can have a significant impact on your mental health.

Research also shows that people who are phubbed are more likely to reach for their own phones to try to engage with their own social media network in order to fill that void. This, people, is the start of a vicious cycle.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, diving into social media looking for that emotional stroke, may actually make the problem worse. I have personally done quite a bit of research myself recently on the adverse aspects of social media, with specific reference to young people (with thanks to Sam Walker for his invaluable input) and it has shown me that phubbing is right up there amongst the more potentially damaging communication-without-connection by¬ products of Facebook, Twitter et al.
Are you measuring up to others’ lifestyles/happiness/attractiveness for instance?

Compulsive phubbing telltales signs:

* Looking at your phone while someone is talking to you
* Texting/scrolling during what should be a personal, interactive connection makes the experience less satisfying for everyone involved. Including the phubber.
* Phubbing interrupts your ability to be present and engage with people around you.
* You carry on two conversations at once, one on your phone and one in person. You’re likely doing neither very successfully, and you’re most certainly phubbing.
* Taking out a phone in social settings
* Say you’re in a social environment with a group of people, but not necessarily involved in a direct conversation. Choosing to look at your smartphone rather than focusing on the conversation taking place around you is also phubbing.
* You immediately bring your phone out at dinner or other social settings.
* Putting your phone beside your plate “just in case” is a warning sign that you’ll soon be phubbing. Plus, you don’t even have to touch your phone during a conversation for it to negatively impact your relationship. Various studies have found that just the presence of the phone made people feel less connected.
* Never allowing your phone to be out of your sight
* If the thought of letting your phone out of your sight sends shivers down your spine, there’s a high risk you exhibit phubbing characteristics. The fear of missing out is real — a real sign you’re phubbing.
Constantly checking a smartphone
* If you find yourself impulsively checking your phone, even when you don’t have any notifications, or you feel compelled to check it every five minutes, there’s a strong chance you’re a phubber.
* Using a smartphone or other technology in bed

This is an absolute no-no! When it comes to romantic relationships, this is a form of phubbing that can really hurt a relationship. We all need, particularly with our partner, their full and undivided attention. It is a matter of respect. And of genuine, demonstrable connection. If it isn’t bad enough that many studies have shown that smartphones are known to mess with your sleep quality, doesn’t it just make it worse to risk jeopardising your love life?

Worth considering? I do hope so.

Katie Gardner is a fully-qualified CBT Counsellor and 10-year expat based on the border of 47/24. She has a regular advice column in The Local Buzz magazine which can also be read online.