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    Phubbing: how the smartphone is ruining our relationships

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    Joe Dispenza

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    Phubbing is a recent term born from the fusion of the words "phone" (mobile phone) and "snubbing" (snubbing), and refers precisely to the act of ignoring or neglecting one's interlocutor in a social context by concentrating on one's smartphone.

    Do you remember the original premise of the iPhone? The first smartphone should have been primarily an MP3 player and a phone in one - an iPod and cell phone designed to make it easier to listen to music and make phone calls.

    But since 2007, the smartphone has evolved into much more than a music / device to call hybrid. It has become a central hub for most of ours online activity. Today, we do hundreds of tasks on our phone, from replying to emails, posting a photo on Instagram, to watching the latest Netflix series.

    Our smartphones have become so ubiquitous that when we accidentally leave the house without them, we feel almost naked. And it's no secret that they have fundamentally changed society as a whole. Smartphones have changed everything, from how we surf the web, to what we do when we drive (!) To how we shop online.

    They have also fundamentally changed the way we interact with each other. It is called Phubbing.

    Phubbing: the new norm

    According to a study, we check our phones on average 85 times a day. Unfortunately, many of these quick (and not so quick) phone checks happen when we are in the presence of others. We hear the fast buzz of our phone and feel compelled to see what's going on, even if it means taking our attention away from other people.

    By doing so, we give time, energy, thought and attention to your smartphone, rather than to the people who are with you. Instead of chatting with the other person, you're scrolling through your Facebook feed or looking at the latest photos of the current influencer.

    Phones, social media, games and apps are dopamine slot machines designed to keep people hooked. The main thing they distract us from? It's relationships. Real human relationships.

    In years past, being so distracted in the presence of others would have been considered completely unacceptable. Today, however, we simply accept it as a by-product of the smartphone era.

    Phubbing has sadly become an accepted norm in our society.

    The truth is, society changes as technology changes. Before the introduction of TV, it was much less common for people to sit in the living room ignoring each other. But with the advent of television, it has suddenly become the norm for everyone to focus their attention on the screen rather than on each other. Technology has changed social norms then and now.

    The same thing is happening with smartphones. It has become acceptable for us to focus our attention on the small screen in the palm of our hand rather than on the people we are with. Instead of interacting with others personally, we swipe and like.

    As technology has changed, our brains have also changed. There are neurological reasons that prevent us from being able to stop controlling our smartphones. Notifications, likes, retweets and text messages cause dopamine to be released in our brains. Dopamine is a chemical that makes us feel good, and every notification we receive causes another dopamine shot to be released.

    Every notification, whether it's a text message, an Instagram “like” or a Facebook notification, has the potential to be a positive social stimulus and a rush of dopamine.

    The unfortunate reality is that we are, in many ways, hooked and glued to our smartphones and this is damaging our relationships.

    Are your smartphone habits hurting your relationships?

    When you are with friends, do you find yourself constantly monitoring your phone? Do you regularly check your text messages, social media feeds and news updates while out and about with your friends? Then you most likely "suffer" from Phubbing.

    Consider what it feels like to be, the ignored person. One feels: ignored, neglected, less precious. At the risk of sounding extreme, it's also a bit dehumanizing when someone chooses their smartphone for you. As if what is happening on their smartphone is more important than the conversation they are having with you.

    Our smartphones, while offering many incredibly valuable services, can make it very difficult to listen to an interlocutor for a long time.

    If we are going to have deep relationships with our partner, or with our friends, we need to clarify how we use our smartphones. We don't need to abandon them entirely. Rather, we need to be reflective about how we use them and how they affect our relationships with others.

    So how can you know if your phone is negatively affecting your relationships with others? Here are four warning signs.

    You find yourself constantly distracted by your phone

    The most important warning sign that your phone is harming your relationships is that you find yourself constantly distracted by your phone, even when you are with others. When you are with friends, do you find yourself regularly busy writing on WhatsApp or browsing social media? Do you always ask people to repeat themselves why did you miss what they said? Do you get lost when people talk because you divide your attention between your friends and your phone?

    If so, your phone is likely having a negative impact on your relationships. It prevents you from developing meaningful relationships that add depth to the human experience.

    People have to interrupt you to get your attention

    Another warning sign that your phone is hurting your relationships is that people have to "interrupt" you simply to get your attention. In other words, you're on your phone so much that you don't have the time and space for in-depth and meaningful conversations with people. The only way they can truly get your attention is if they "interrupt" you.

    Others comment on how attached you are on the phone

    If others regularly comment on how much time you spend on your phone, that's not a good sign. They feel hurt by your actions and express their inca ** ing by commenting on the (unhealthy) use you make of the phone.

    If someone comments on how much time you spend on your phone, consider asking them, how it feels to be ignored in favor of your phone. You will see that as minino throws you the first object he has at hand 😉

    Having trouble engaging in a deep relationship

    Deep and meaningful conversations are an important part of life. They allow us to develop true friendships with people that go beyond just the surface. Unfortunately, our phones can make it difficult for us to engage in these kinds of deep, heartfelt conversations.

    For the conversation to be profound, we need to be able to pay our attention to the other person for a long period of time. We need to be able to fully listen and respond to what it tells us.

    If you're never immersed in conversation, never talking about anything particularly significant, the phone may be at least partly to blame.

    5 ways to create to limit your phone when you are with others

    How can you make sure your phone doesn't harm your relationships with others? Consider implementing some (or all) of these tactics to eliminate phubbing.

    Put your phone away

    Let's start with the most extreme measure. There are times when you just put the phone away. Put it in a drawer. Close it in a box. Do whatever it takes to break the gripping, distracting power of your smartphone. While the phone is away, use that time to engage in meaningful conversations with others.

    Turn off notifications

    Consider turning off notifications on your phone while you're with others. Disable text messages and emails, as well as notifications from social media applications such as Facebook and Twitter. If you're using a smart watch, be sure to turn off notifications on it as well. This eliminates the distracting buzzes and dings that are so distracting, and leaves this "Phubbing noise" behind.

    Give yourself some rules

    It's not enough to block distractions and notifications on your phone. You also need to create new habits and boundaries for yourself. You need new phone usage policies that will prevent you from harming your relationships. Consider creating specific rules for yourself about when you want and don't use your phone.

    I'll reveal my rule: one weekend a month from Friday evening to Monday morning if I happen to go away from Milan, I leave the phone off and at home. Some thrills flow from not having the phone with me, but it is over-balanced by how good and present I feel with my friends and family.

    It's not easy to break smartphone-related habits - it may be difficult to change your behavior patterns. But the work involved is worth it.

    Don't let your phone get in the way of your ability to give love to your friends and family. You say stop Phubbing.

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