Are you Guilty of Phubbing?

| By TMA World

The Growing Problem of Smartphone Addiction

I don’t know why we are so worried about machines taking over, we have already surrendered to our smartphones. 68% of Americans sleep with their smartphone next to their bed and 79% reach for their phone within 15 minutes of waking up. 79% of Americans keep their smartphones nearby for all but 2 hours of the day (I’m surprised it’s that much), and check it on average 221 times per day.  A survey found that 53% of millennials would rather give up their sense of smell than lose a device connection.  US adults spend an average of 4.7 hours per day on their smartphones.  In Europe, one person in five says they can consult with their phone while making love; that number in Britain is 36%.  


Our relationships may never be the same again.  A study by Baylor University in Texas highlights several behaviors increasingly common among couples:

  • He takes his phone out of his pocket during dinner
  • She positions her laptop so that she can see it
  • He keeps his smartphone in hand
  • In full conversation, she turns away after a bell or a beep
  • He looks at his phone while talking
  • At the first time-out in a conversation, she seizes her cell phone

And so, phubbing, a contraction of phone and snubbing – to ignore (a person or one’s surroundings) when in a social situation by busying oneself with a phone or other mobile device.

Several researchers have observed that the near universal availability and increasing capabilities of the smartphone have led to two paradoxes:

  1. The present-absent paradox – being physically present, but really absent
  2. The freeing-enslaving paradox – having freedom to communicate to anyone, anywhere, at any time but also sense of obligation to respond in a timely (usually instantaneous) manner.

Phubbing fosters a sense of exclusion on the part of the one being phubbed whether in social life or at work.

Here is a quote from a participant in the Baylor research:

“In meetings, there is always someone watching his laptop, especially to watch the emails . . . But the worst is the leader.  Sometimes you talk to him and he has his nose stuck on his phone.  Then you stop, and you see that he does not clearly listen to you.  It’s annoying, but we cannot say anything . . .”

Here’s another from a French manager:

“At each meeting, the CEO is on his smartphone, to send a SMS, even when we speak directly to him.  He raises his head and says, ‘I listen to you, I listen to you’ before leaning over again, showing a blatant disregard for his interlocutors.”

In the Baylor study, employees surveyed said that they less confidence in a phubber leader.  This loss of confidence affects productivity since it leads to demotivation, and reduced self-esteem through feelings of being rejected or ignored.

The machines have already taken over the lives of some.  As one wit has said:

“My life has become a major distraction from my cell phone.”

I intend to resist.  Join me!

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