Some time ago, I was having dinner in a restaurant, and I couldn’t help observing a couple dining at a nearby table; two young adults "sharing" their lunch. Their lack of communication caught my attention. He was absolutely involved with his smartphone. At some point, he barely lifted his head, made some comment and his gaze returned to the screen. Meanwhile, she tried to distract herself looking around, in silence.
More often than not, we are finding ourselves in this kind of situations with our partners in the car, during a meal, in bed, etc. The list could be endless.
In 2007, Alex Haigh created a new vocable: phubbing—the combination of the words phone and snubbing. The term can be defined as the act of an individual who ignores or belittles the people who accompany him, concentrating on some mobile technology—could be a cell phone, tablet, laptop or another smart gadget.
At some point, it has happened to us—or we have done it. While someone tries to communicate something to us, we don’t take our eyes from the phone or tablet. Or perhaps, in the middle of a conversation, we are interrupted by our companion to discuss a tweet or email, or by the laughter of some funny joke he has just read and you are not privy to. It is as if the phone were an extension of our own body.
Gisela Echeverría, Master of Edu-communication for Radio and Television Journalism and Systemic Family Therapy states, "the tremendous connection capacity offered by smartphones is creating a series of problems for relationships because they capture the full attention of those who use them." With phubbing, a relationship can become cold and distant. We lose the connection with our loved ones to interact with people that are not present, nor absent.
People create their own world around the mobile phone, and this affects their persona. Dr. Echeverria adds: "We forget feelings and ignore the vital experience of those next to us to stay connected with people who sometimes we do not even know." As the need to "keep connected at every moment" becomes more and more important, we risk our relationships with the most important persons in our lives.
But what can lead us to phubbing? Do we try to fill some existential emptiness? Satisfy a need? Find emotional relief?
James A. Roberts and David Meredith conducted research at the University of Baylor, Texas. During the study—pubished in Science Daily— they interviewed 400 adults. 46.3 percent of respondents said they had been victims of "phubbing" by their partner and 22.6 indicated that it caused conflicts in the relationship. More than a third of the participants reported feeling depressed part of the time. Overall, only 32 percent said they were satisfied with their relationship.
Roberts said: "What we found was that when someone notices their partner is “phubbing", it creates conflicts that lead to lower satisfaction levels. Therefore, when you spend time with your partner, we urge you to be aware that the disruptions caused by cell phones can be harmful to your relationship”.
On the other hand, David Meredith said the findings suggest that the more times the couple are interrupted because one of them answers the phone, the less likely it is that the other person will be happy in the relationship For more information, visit http://www.inspirulina.com/el-phubbing-y-tu-pareja.html.
Eli Bravo is the Managing Director and Chief Editor of Inspirulina, a Spanish content website with articles on wellness, personal growth and health. ■
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