What The Heck Is...

What the heck is… Phubbing?

By Kitty Knowles 15 February 2017
Summary

Explaining the buzzwords of the moment: what is phubbing and why is it breaking couples apart?

Our weekly series What The Heck Is… exists to shed light on the strange unexplained acronyms and unfamiliar buzzwords that creep into our everyday lives.

From social eating to teledildonics we’re on a mission to explain the difficult to explain.

Now, in honour of Future Love month, we’re exploring the slang that’s slipped into our relationships

Today’s word might sound lewd, but we promise – it’s the opposite.

Welcome to the world of ‘phubbing’.

What the heck is phubbing?

No, phubbing isn’t some strange new-age sex act.

It’s actually when you’re so preoccupied with your smartphone, you ignore the people around you.

The word is a blend of ‘phone’ and ‘snubbing’, see?

Today phubbing is common in relationships; but friends, family and colleagues can be accused of phubbing too.

In fact, most people who own a digital device have at some point been a big fat phubber.

Where did phubbing come from?

The word phubbing was first coined in 2013 by the then Account Director of global marketing firm McCann Group, Adrian Mills.

The company later launched its Stop Phubbing campaign from Australia (the idea of an intern, who was later hired), and there’s even a film about the saga: A Word is Born.

Today, you can still visit the campaign website to download posters to discourage phubbing.

Or, if you believe you have to be cruel to be kind, to upload a culprit to the Phubbing Hall of Shame.

Pic: Stop Phubbing campaign.
Pic: Stop Phubbing campaign.

Why should you care?

Phubbing isn’t just some silly smartphone phenomenon.

It’s actually having a real – negative – impact on our everyday lives.

We look at our phone up to 150 times each day, suggests a recent report from Baylor University scientists. According to their survey, 70% of us think phubbing is hurting our relationships.

It’s directly responsible for greater levels of conflict, lower relationship quality, lower life satisfaction and higher risk of depression, the study found.

Read more: She phubbs me, she phubbs me not: Smartphones could be ruining your love life

What should you do?

One great dinner party rule, suggested by Stop Phubbing campaigners, is that you literally pay for your sins: at dinner everyone places their phone face down on the table, and the first to crack foots the bill.

This year, some restaurants have even gone to the extreme of locking up guests’ smartphones during service (although keeping your phone on silent and snug in your bag would suffice).

Arianna Huffington famously keeps her phone out of the bedroom, and almost everyone now recognises that digital detoxing at the end of the day is good for sound mental health.

When you engage in phubbing you don’t just hurt those around you, you hurt yourself.

Whatever way you choose to stop: it’s time to put the phone down – or phub off.

Our weekly series What The Heck Is… exists to shed light on the strange unexplained acronyms and unfamiliar buzzwords that creep into our everyday lives.