The rise of phubbing - aka phone snubbing

Practice has spawned an online backlash that has gone global

“While you finish updating your status, we’ll gladly service the polite person behind you.” “No Tweeting, No Facebook, No Instagram, No Foursquare, No Sexting: respect the food, the music and the company you’re in.” These are the posters you can download from the elegant Stop Phubbing website – the online home of a campaign against digitally derived rudeness that has started to go global.

Coined by Alex Haigh, a 23-year-old Melbourne resident, phubbing stands for “phone snubbing”, and describes “the act of snubbing someone in a social setting by looking at your phone instead of paying attention”. Tongues are firmly in cheeks when it comes to some of the stats (“if phubbing were a plague, it would decimate six Chinas”), but the intention behind the campaign is serious enough: to highlight the scourge of glazed faces in public places, text-tapping fingers during supposedly intimate dinners, and reunions that might as well have been held via Google Hangouts given the screen time involved.

When it comes to smartphones, tablets and other mobile delights, many of us have the unfortunate tendency to behave like teenagers: prodding and poking our shiny toy to the exclusion of anyone and anything else. And that’s partly because, so far as mobile tech goes, we are all adolescents. Mass-market smartphones are barely 17 years old; iPhones only six; and iPads just three. Little wonder we’re playing etiquette catchup, or that it has taken a digital native to unlock this particular cabinet of fascination.

It sounds cheerfully daft, but there’s an uncomfortable truth at the heart of phubbing: other people are easier to handle when encountered on screen. They’re less likely to demand unreasonable exertions such as undivided attention or clean shirts. In an age of information suffusion, it makes horrible sense to shrink each other into text messages and status updates – because this is a way of coping with constant, limitless connectivity.

 

The other way, of course, is to board the phub wagon and start shaming others (and yourself) into a more grown-up existence. Try splitting the bill Silicon Valley-style: all your phones go on the table, and the first person to crack and begin fondling their screen foots the bill. Or you could take advantage of Stop Phubbing’s name-and-shame facility, which invites the public exposure of incessant phubbers. Beware of visiting the site via a mobile browser, though. Do this, and you’ll be met by the flickering admonition “mother fubber” then told to sit down at a computer like a sensible person.

Sometimes, hiding behind the screen remains a godsend. Who would forgo their fake urgent text messaging when a charity mugger looms across the pavement; or email management when waiting alone in a bar? Physical proximity is no guarantee of interestingness, for either places or people.

Be careful, though, who you snub next. Their wry smile and flashing fingers may already have consigned you to the phubbing hall of shame.

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
News
Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, right, met at Havana Golf Club in 1962 to mock the game
newsFidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: PHP Web Developer

    £30000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a Web Developer looking...

    Ashdown Group: Moodle Developer (PHP ,Linux, Apache, MySQL, Moodle)

    £35000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Moodle Developer (PHP ,Linux, Apache...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

    £17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Junior .NET Web Developer - Winform / MVC

    £21000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Award-winning pharma softw...

    Day In a Page

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
    Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

    Scarred by the bell

    The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
    Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

    Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

    Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
    The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

    The Locked Room Mysteries

    As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
    Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

    How I made myself Keane

    Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
    Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

    Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

    Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
    A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

    Wear in review

    A look back at fashion in 2014
    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

    Might just one of them happen?
    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?