Every gadget, every app on smartphones, every social media platform, was created solely with a motive, of keeping its users engaged and increase their screen time.
Although, use of technology has numerous benefits, having made our lives easier, their potential adverse effects cannot be ignored. Internet addictions, social media addictions, facebook, twitter or WhatsApp issues, etc., are on the rise, at an alarming rate.
In today’s day and age, technology has a powerful effect on people’s lives, than ever before. Teenagers especially, have been largely influenced leading to impaired social skills. Online communication is preferred to real time, face to face ones. Mindless scrolling over cellphones, texting, checking for social media posts, likes and updates, seeing random videos, etc.,all seem to have become more preferable than making a call or having a face to face conversation. With social connection always just a few clicks away, people today are less likely to leave their homes and seek that connection in the real world. In fact, the overuse comes with many other negative outcomes, like losing the ability to read body language and social cues in other people, ignoring near and dear ones, lack of empathy and insensitivity, failure to form a genuine bonding, anxiety issues, depression, sleep deprivation, etc.
If you are with someone who is ignoring you while they interact with their smartphone, then welcome to Phubbing, the modern social phenomenon that is capable of destroying relationships. The word Phubbing was coined in the year 2012. It basically refers, to the act of snubbing someone your in the company of, simply to look into your phone, instead of paying attention to people. Although this behaviour may not seem like a big deal, research suggests that phubbing may be hurting your relationships and your mental health. A phubber would be busy scrolling through their phone, blissfully unaware of the world around them, including the person sitting with them.
Communication is a means to express yourself and reach out to another. Language, a form of communication, was developed by humans, to better connect with others, share feelings and information, as well as, create meaningful bondings. However, modern communication through electronic use, has given rise to an attention seeking economy, designed to keep you hooked on to your smartphone as much as possible. The advantages come with a cost and a need to minimise these costs is becoming increasingly evident.
When we’re staring at our phones, we are often connecting with someone on social media through texting. So, ironically, phubbing is meant to connect you to someone on social media through texting, at the cost of disrupting your actual, present-moment, in-person relationships, which very often, are your most important ones. Furthermore, people who are phubbed are eventually more likely to reach for their phones and try to engage with their social media network, in order to fill that void they feel within. This is how the vicious cycle has begun and continues to get worse each day, all around the world.
Overuse of smartphones in the company of others can have serious repercussions, be it at at home, at work, on holidays, at functions, events, etc. It can distance the closest of friends, relatives, colleagues, spouses – anyone we constantly keep phubbing. When we are in company but distracted because of our phone, we are essentially missing out on so many important minute details of interactions, such as facial expressions (smiles, tears, frowns) of our companions; We cannot hear the nuances in their tone of voice (anxious, sad, shaky); We do not notice their body posture (excited, nervous, enthusiastic, slumped); Miscommunications cannot be addressed easily and many more such negative effects, which demerits the use of technology, since they are signs of problematic technology use.
Plunged into a virtual world, we hunch over a screen, strain our eyes unnecessarily, and tune out completely from our own needs, for sleep, exercise, even food. A disturbing study indicates, that for every minute we spend online for leisure, we’re not just compromising our relationships, we are also losing precious self-care time and productivity. Social media begins as an escape, or a way to zone out at the end of the day. Soon, however, it may become a problem.
If your phone is with you at all times because you’re afraid you’ll miss a call, a tweet, or a status update, you are likely to be guilty of phubbing. There is an urgent need to control this habit, in order to promote better physical, mental, and social health. Phubbing isn’t a real addiction. It is an impulse problem. Impulses and learned behaviours may take some time to break, but is definitely not impossible to do. It is possible to keep the use of technology positive, by being mindful in its usage. So, next time you’re with another human and you feel tempted to pull out your phone—Please!Stop! Put it away. Look them in the eyes, and listen to what they have to say. Do it for them, do it for yourself, do it to make this world a better place.