“Coined about 5 years ago, phubbing is an obvious mash up of phone + snubbing, and it refers to the nonverbal insult we transmit when our eyes drop and we must text or scroll through (insert most addictive app here) updates despite being in polite company. At its worst, it happens mid-conversation with dialogue halted by status-dropping silence and direct questions answered by a mute display of our scalps. Irony lovers will appreciate that the silent message sent to the people or person with us screams something along the lines of: “sorry guys, I really want to hear about your baby but I need to heart these Instagram Poke Bowls.”
“That’s not fair!” you say without looking up from your phone, “I have work texts and emails to tend to”. Yup, you do. And, to be fair, technological advancements of the last 15 years have introduced legitimate “phone addiction” to our lexicon along with “phubbing”, it’s most blatant symptom. But, addicted or productive, you’re still broadcasting the message that your friend/lover/grandma isn’t as important (or as interesting) as your device is in that moment.
Most absorbed by phubbing’s addictive allure? Predictably, it’s young people. Few generations have taken to technology like millennials but even within that demographic, one sub group is much more prone to behavioural dependence on devices: extroverted women.
A recent study done at Baylor University exploring smartphone use in couples found that almost half of those surveyed reported way too much phubbing during quality time. Partners who phubbed or were phubbed upon regularly admitted to a marked dissatisfaction with their relationship and an increase in depressive feelings.