As much as technology and the inception of smartphones has done us so much good, there are downsides to this development which is negatively affecting some age long culture of friendships and relationships.
These traditions include taking long walks with friends, visiting and catching up on each other’s lives as well as talking to loved ones to relieve stress and pressing issues as the saying goes, a problem shared is a problem half solved.
The gadget (telephones and smartphones) which in the past could only be afforded by the ‘rich’ has now become an everyday item as everyone can afford one without spending so much money. Because of the easy access, it has made us become so immersed in our digital lives, thereby placing priorities over unimportant things.
One vivid example is the fact that it is very easy and seems almost necessary for a person to post a picture of dinner online rather than actually enjoying it and sharing their impressions with the person seated from the other end of the table.
‘Phubbing’ is basically snubbing someone and preferring to use your phone while you are with people around to talk to. Phubbing is a term coined as part of linguistic experiment by Macquarie Dictionary to describe the habit of snubbing someone in favor of a mobile phone.
Overtime phubbing has become a common habit. As much as phubbing can seem like a harmless activity, it can have a real impact on your relationships with others.
Firstly, it is taking away “quality time” that should be spent making memories with loved ones. Quality time is an expression referring to how an individual proactively interacts with another while they are together, regardless of the duration.
The emergence of smartphones has aided communication with friends and family that are far away from us. But sadly, when the same people are seated right next to us, we ignore them and connect with others who are miles away. How much more interconnectedness do we need, before we realize the value of quality time?
Secondly, prioritizing your phone over company sends a subconscious message to the person seated next to you or opposite you. When we choose to prioritize our phones over the person in front of us, we are sending them a hidden message.
We forget that when we are communicating with someone, we need to pay attention not only to the person’s voice and words, but we need to focus on his or her body language and cues.
Also, when a person is sharing an emotional story with someone who keeps checking their phone, it sends a message that the other person is not concerned about what they have to say.
It also sends a message that the person sharing his or her story is not important or is not worth anything to the one who keeps looking at their phone.
An addictive habit like this is quite difficult to break free from but one must try as much as they can to maintain friendships and relationships regardless.
Some suggestions on how one can stay away from their phones for a little while in order to catch up and share good times with family and friends may include using app or internet blockers, keeping your phones far from reach or even designing a physical band that can be placed around your phone with a reminder to “look up”.
You could also try telling your friend or partner how you feel when they prioritize their phone over spending time with you and work on a solution together.
In all of this, connecting with new people is not a crime. It becomes disrespectful, when you decide to trade away a physical companion for the ‘unknown’. Being together, yet apart is an issue that needs to be discarded. Let us say no to being consumed by our phones, that we do not pay attention to individuals who might genuinely need our help.