To Phubb or Not to Phubb?

A new verb for a very recent phenomenon. Phubbing was invented by inveterate texters and proliferated by anyone aged between 16-25 years.

Urban dictionary defines “phubbing” as:

Snubbing someone in favour of your mobile phone. We’ve all done it: when a conversation gets boring, the urge to check out an interesting person’s twitter/ Facebook/ Youtube/ Pinterest/whatever feed can be overwhelming.

Unsurprisingly, even though the word is probably only a couple of months old, there is a campaign to fight phubbing. It is safe to assume that a complementary verb will soon appear to denote injury suffered while texting and not paying attention to obstacles in one’s immediate surroundings, such as fire hydrants, other people, lamp posts, potholes, cars, lawn mowers, and so on.

From the Guardian:

Age: A distinctly 21st-century problem.

Appearance: A friend’s face buried in a screen.

What are we talking about? We’re talking about phubbing.

Never heard of it. That’s because the word was first used about a month ago.

To describe what? To describe the kind of person who bursts out laughing mid-conversation, making you think you’ve made a brilliant joke, and then says: “Sorry, I wasn’t laughing at you, I just saw something really funny on Twitter.” Or the sort who think it’s appropriate to check their emails in the pub when you only have each other for company. Or the tedious people who live-tweet weddings.

Those people are the worst. So what does “phubbing” actually mean? It means “The act of snubbing someone in a social setting by looking at your phone instead of paying attention.”

According to whom? According to the website of the international Stop Phubbing campaign group.

There’s a campaign against it? There is. Or a website for a campaign anyway, set up last month by 23-year-old Alex Haigh from Melbourne. They haven’t actually done all that much campaigning so far.

How can I get involved? You can download “Stop Phubbing” posters for restaurants and “Stop Phubbing” place cards for weddings, browse a gallery of celebrity “phubbers” caught texting instead of talking – including Victoria Beckham and Elton John – and even “Shame a Phubber” from your own social circle by uploading an incriminating photograph to the site.

Sounds pretty serious. Not really. There’s also a list of “Disturbing Phubbing Stats” that includes “If phubbing were a plague it would decimate six Chinas”, “97% of people claim their food tasted worse while being a victim of phubbing” and “92% of repeat phubbers go on to become politicians”.

Ah. So it’s really just a joke site? Well, a joke site with a serious message about our growing estrangement from our fellow human beings. But mostly a joke site, yes.

Read the article here.

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