Our modern world of technology has drastically changed, and we’re not talking about thousands of years, but literally in the span of a decade. The impact of this change has spread through so many of us, that we may not even be totally aware of how much it affects our relationships.
So, what is it that can be so detrimental to relationships in this modern world? Phubbing. Never heard of the word? Yeah, I didn’t either until a little while ago either, but I am sure you are totally familiar with what it actually means.
Phubbing comes from the words phone & snubbing put together. Whenever you are in the company of another person and check/look at your phone you are phubbing. It’s totally a major issue in modern day relationships.
To be honest, nearly all of us are guilty of this—including myself. You know when you are out on that romantic dinner and felt the need to snap 15 photos for Instagram before eating or saying thank you? That’s phubbing. Or how about when you went on that awesome vacation together, and you needed to check into the hotel on Facebook with some totally great status to let all your friends know what you are up to? That’s phubbing too. Or when you are eating together and you just keep glancing at your phone and checking it every time a notification goes off? Again, phubbing. You get the picture, right?
I always observe the social environments I am in to see what other people are doing. I totally suggest you do it (if you haven’t already) to see this phenomenon in action. The next time you are out in a public setting take a look at the people around you. This is especially interesting to do at a restaurant, bar, or café. I remember this one time seeing a couple on what seemed like a very special dinner, but the woman took about 30 photos of her food before even saying a single word to her boyfriend about the food. Is this what modern day relationships are coming to?
The science behind phubbing
James Roberts, a professor of marketing at Baylor University conducted a study on phubbing. To conduct the study, they used a phubbing scale which had questions like “during a typical mealtime together, my partner pulls out and checks his/her cellphone” and “my partner places his or her cellphone where they can see it when we are together”
Overall, 46.3 percent of the 453 respondents reported being phubbed by their partner. On top of that, only 32 percent of respondents said they felt satisfied in their relationship!
“What we discovered was that when someone perceived that their partner phubbed them, this created conflict and led to lower levels of reported relationship satisfaction,” Roberts said. He also added that “these lower levels of relationship satisfaction, in turn, led to lower levels of life satisfaction and, ultimately, higher levels of depression.” Pretty crazy stuff!
So what can be done to stop phubbing?
Our smartphones show us how advanced technology is today, but at the same time show us how bad technology can be if we are not careful. I’ve always been one to check in with my friends on Whatsapp, Facebook messenger, or via email. Since I’m living abroad, the only way I really communicate with my mom is via email. But, that also means I am frequently checking my phone—even when my boyfriend is around.
Christoph, my boyfriend, is the best at reminding me to just put my phone down and ignore it. I think I’m also pretty good at telling him as well. We’re both twenty somethings, who have grown up with cellphones for as long as we can remember. But, that also means that we’re used to them being around us at all times, which seems totally normal. However, I really think that this shouldn’t be the norm. Our phones don’t have to be attached to us at our hip. There just is no reason for this!
So, if you are in a relationship, I can offer you this advice:
Go on vacation sometimes without turning the WiFi on
This is honestly one of the best ways I’ve found to avoid phubbing. Christoph and I make it a priority to completely shut off from all our responsibilities connected to the world wide web when we are on vacation together. Sometimes this isn’t possible (if you are a blogger you get it!), so we set ourselves a limit of time to be connected to our phones.
Easier said than done though. To be honest, most of the time I’m on vacation I look around at other couples inside restaurants, cafes and bars. It seems the moment they get free WiFi they completely forget about one another. Their conversation seems to stop and they are totally glued to their screen.
Going away together is about being together and enjoying the moment. Think you really need your phone on vacation? Then just think about people 20 years ago. People then used maps and actually communicated with one another for directions and recommendations. You don’t always need your phone, just enjoy the place you are in and each other’s company!
Leave your phone at home sometimes when you are out with your partner
Try it sometime. When you are out with your partner, what is the need to always bring your phone with you? I really like to do this when I go for walks. There is nothing more distracting then being in the middle of a beautiful park somewhere and hearing the notification sounds from my Whatsapp messages! Sure, you can just turn your notifications off, but I still really find the actual experience changes when I am totally disconnected from my phone. This is something you can get in the habit of doing right now.
Leave your phone in the other room when you are at home
Again, this is another simple habit you can get used to right now. When Christoph and I both see each other after work we leave our phones in other rooms while catching up with one another. This is a simple step you can take right now to keep your phubbing to a minimum.
Make a habit of at least one time to not use your phone together
There should definitely be a no phone time in your relationship. I think the best time to do this is when eating, because the focus should be on the food and each other, not on what someone’s Facebook status is saying. It doesn’t matter when you set that time up, but it should be established and set in stone.
Is Phubbers anonymous the future?
It may seem funny, but phone addiction and serious phubbing is a major issue in our modern world. But, I totally think it is something we are in complete control of and have the choice to decide what we want to do.
We are not mindless robots, and that is the beauty of us being human! There are, however, times when I worry about the generations that are growing up now. I only got a cellphone when I was 14; kids these days know about cellphones from the minute they are brought into this world.
It’s a scary reality when we think about that. That is why it is important for us to recognize that we should be spending our time together enjoying our lives together without distractions.
It’s our duty to first be able to move away from being phubbers and being the ones to teach generations to come that life is about experiencing and being in the present moment. Not taking 100 photos and updating our Facebook status while we split our attention a million different ways.
So, are you willing to help me move away from phubbing? If so, start today!
P.S. For the sake of this post, I only referred to romantic relationships/dating in regards to phubbing; however, this is definitely an issue for any relationship—including being with family and friends.