What Does Phubbing Mean? Science Has A New Word For This Sticky Social Situation
If there were ever a moment to facepalm your Millennial self right in the brain, it's the moment you learn what "phubbing" means. No, it's not slang for something ~dirty~ (but don't feel like your mind is too far in the gutter, because I assumed it was, too). Phubbing, perhaps the distant cousin of "selfie," the other word our generation is responsible for, actually has to do with your phone. It is a clever combination of the words "phone" and "snub," and it means ... well, exactly what you think it means. It's what happens when you go out to chill with your buds and they snub you by texting or tweeting or scrolling down their Insta feed, which is apparently (and insultingly) much more interesting than your company.
The word was coined by James A. Roberts of Too Much of a Good Thing: Are You Addicted to Your Smartphone?. Dr. Roberts has been studying addictive behavior in humans for the last 15 years, and says that phubbing is no joke — do it enough, and it can "damage romantic relationships and lead to higher levels of depression." Of course, this isn't breaking news for any of us who have ever been That Friend left to awkwardly stare into space at the bar when their BFF starts texting their S.O.
So how can you live your best life and prevent all future phubbing fails? (I'll be taking that alliteration award with cheese, please.) Here are some surefire ways to
If You're Distracted By Social Media ...
Put that thing in airplane mode. Think about it this way — if you're checking your phone in the WiFi scant bar, odds are you'll run outta juice and have nothing to entertain yourself on the bus/subway/taxi ride home anyway (don't drink and drive, y'all). Save it for when you can giving stalking your ex's Instagram the full, undivided attention it DESERVES.
If You're Distracted By Other Friends ...
Tell everyone you're talking to via text or messenger that you're busy. Then, better yet, do that super cliché things that groups of friends do when they go out, and pile all your phones in the center of the table. The first person to check theirs has to pay for the drink of whoever is sitting closest to them. (That whole "pay the whole bill" thing would pretty much financially cripple someone in 2015.)
If You're Distracted By Work ...
OK, OK, I get it. We all want to stay plugged into our jobs because we are the generation that all aggressively followed their ~dreams~ and got jobs they loved, and you shouldn't be shamed Devil Wears Prada-style for wanting to remain vigilant. So do what the classy people do, and set your phone so it only gets notifications if they're from your work e-mail or work group chat, and tell your friends ahead of time that there is a possibility you'll have to respond to people. If they're your #TrueBuds, they'll understand.
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