"Phubbing". Have you heard of this term before today? If you did, then you might well know what this article contains or may contain. And if you don't, then why not get going and know it by reading all bout this "life-threatening" phenomenon?
Smartphones have undoubtedly expanded the field of communication technology. It is a social revolution with multiple benefits. One can talk to anyone from anywhere at any time, with multiple added features of entertainment, information, and education. This invention is meant to make everyone socially connected and submerge the whole world into a single thread of a network.
But how far has it succeeded? Is this technological intelligence able to bridge the distance between people, or is it making it worse?
In this gadget-obsessed time, mobile phones saved the day by making life easier and making access to everything faster—faster access to data, faster interaction, and faster communication. This has helped the human race, but it has also caused a bigger real-life problem: phubbing.
The world is getting overly inclined toward the digital world, with very little or no connection with the physical surroundings. There is rising concern about the adverse effects of smartphones, mostly among youngsters and teenagers. However, we can also not exclude adults from it. Every other day, we hear about various issues caused by smartphone overuse, and today we will discuss the growing issue of "phubbing."
It is the act of snubbing or ignoring someone in a social setting to concentrate on one’s phone. In other words, it is when someone prefers to be on their phone and engage in the reel world rather than communicating with the others present in a social setting.
The term "phubbing" was first coined in May 2012 by an Australian advertising agency to describe the phenomenon of people ignoring others to scroll on their phones instead. It is the combination of two words: "phone" and "snubbing."
Even if the phone is meant to facilitate social interactions or communication, the phubbing phenomenon detracts from rather than complements social interactions. Checking our phones is prioritised over interacting with the people around us.
With the explosion of communication technology in recent years, smartphones have become an inseparable part of an individual’s life. It is used for entertainment, information, education, and communication purposes. The availability of adequate data is just the cherry on top of all of these. The Internet is dragging us in, and we are in serious need of ways to be free from that trap. Despite its obvious benefits, there are certain things we need to be careful of.
Before finding out the solutions to phubbing behaviour, we need to understand how it is becoming a normal and socially acceptable behaviour among us. Anyone owning a smartphone or being around someone who has owned one, in some way or another, been phubbed or has been a "phubber."
Internet addiction is on the rise given its easy accessibility and availability through our smartphones. Hence, the more we are used to the internet, the more phubbing will rise. Both are directly proportional to each other. And social media is making this situation even worse. Diving into the vicious cycle of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, and others can lead people to be left with depression and anxiety. And the idea of giving up social media has proven to make the youth of this generation prone to Fear Of Missing Out or FOMO. They value virtual social connections much more than real-world relationships. Phubbing is particularly tied to high social media engagement among youth.
Phubbing has a severe negative impact on mental, physical, and social health. Studies have shown that overuse of smartphones has led to several mental health issues, such as difficulty concentrating, less self-control, lack of self-esteem, social media envy, etc. Although such topics are researched, the contribution of phubbing or the cause of phubbing is still not adequately studied, which may prove to be problematic. There is not much literature revolving around this issue, even though everyone is facing its adverse effects.
Mobile phone addiction as a whole is the main dimension leading to this problem, whether through the internet, games, or social media addiction.
A new term is on the rise: "Nomophobia," or "No MObile PHone PhoBIA." It is when a person experiences anxiety and fear without having their phone with them. It is an adverse effect of digital media use on our mental health and is certainly adding to the problem of phubbing.
Both of these are the most serious consequences of increasing smartphone addiction or problematic Internet use. And both of these types of behaviour are certainly noticeable among all teenagers. However, people are way less aware of the phubbing phenomenon.
The scale of phubbing needs to be recognised and solved. However, the world has turned such that without a smartphone in hand, one cannot go through their daily chores as well. Be it the calendar, calculator, watch, notepad, or journal, it has replaced almost every other necessity in life. From jotting down our grocery list to setting a reminder, we depend on our smartphones, and it is just a matter of time before this dependency turns into an addiction, and that addiction will lead us to adopt the phubbing act. We are getting dragged into phubbing without having any idea.
Apart from ruining one’s relationships, it has a huge negative impact on social life and social interactions, as well as leading to threatening people’s fundamental human needs such as belongingness, not to mention the adverse effects it can have on one’s mental health. It can also lead to social alienation or addiction.
It's recently become a problem, and proper guidance and awareness can surely put an end to it.
We are already halfway to resolving the problem as we recognise our habit of being overly reliant on our phones, which has led us to adopt phubbing behaviour. The next step would be to find out the ways we are dependent on our cell phones and how we are misusing them. And once we find those out, we have to limit our use and set certain boundaries, and voila! We will no longer be phubbing!
As easy as it might sound, it is a process that will require an enormous amount of patience and self-control. The main issue is that there are not many concerns raised around this issue, and the ones that are going through this phase might still not be aware of it.
This is where proper media literacy can play a major role. Schools and colleges may organise some workshops or seminars to help the affected individuals understand this problem and the harmful effects it may have on their lives in the long run.
We can certainly break and unlearn phubbing behaviour once and for all if we understand the dynamics well. The process, however, will take some time, but if we know how to balance the real and the reel, the virtual world will never become a burden.
Next time, let's control our temptation to reach for our phone and not miss out on what's in front of us.
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