Technology certainly has an overwhelming impact on human relations. For most of us, however, this impact is positive. Smartphone technology gives us illimitable options for expressing our true selves. We can share videos, memes, quotes, pictures and what not. If we are active on social media, then to all the people who might be following us it might feel like we are always there with them. Furthermore, these innovative forms of expression also bring us much closer to people, with whom we might otherwise find it difficult to converse. Nevertheless, there’s also a darker side of your smartphone that might be ruining relationships, it’s called ‘phubbing’.
Phubbing: The act of ignoring others while on phone
Do you find it irritating when you are talking to someone, but they are focusing on your phone? Well, nobody likes it, and this is what phubbing is all about, phoning and snubbing at the same time. It’s okay when you or someone you know is phubbing only once in a while, but if this becomes a habit then it won’t be without consequences. No matter whether it is you yourself are doing it or whether you are at the other end of the bargain, it is something that you need to resolve immediately. Otherwise, it might lead to some of the following drastic effects:
Bad effects of phubbing
1. Loss of sense of reality
This might inevitably happen if you are a textrovert i.e. if you are shy in real life, but an extrovert when comes to texting. If this is the tendency that is pushing you towards phubbing then it might be possible that you are using smartphone as a surrogate to real life interaction. However, try as you may, nothing can suffice the actual human connection. It might be possible that there’s an anxiety issue behind your behavior, in which case you ought to see a therapist asap. Remember, your smartphone is supposed to supplement real life interactions, but it shouldn’t supplant them.
2. Effect on social skills
Social skills might seem like instinctive to many, but when you closely analyze them, you’d find out that they are acquired by a lifelong practice. On the other hand, when you confine your social interactions to just your cellphone, sooner or later, you’d find it difficult to interact in real life. You might start getting the feeling that the people around don’t understand you, but the problem might be from your end and not theirs. If that’s the case with you, you need to act quick.
3. Effect on your relationships
Phubbing could have a determining effect on the mental health of loved ones, especially when they aren’t as attracted to the virtual world as you are. This could become the breeding ground of farfetched problems like depression, marital dissatisfaction, etc. Moreover, if your partner already happens to suffer from some mental health disorder, phubbing might worsen it.
How to stop phubbing
Considering the bad effects of phubbing on your life, you might want to stop, but if you have tried to do it before you might know how hard it is. The urge to be active on social media and in the virtual world could be pretty strong. Nevertheless, if you tackle the problem in a systematic way, it is not that hard to overcome.
1. Make no-phone time
Eating while watching television or phone is sure to lead to health issues. In addition, operating on your phone before you sleep could also lead to sleep problems. Therefore, first of all, you should make it a rule to make sure that your phone doesn’t interfere with these two. First, turn off the television and keep your phone aside while you are munching and avoid distracted eating as much as you can. Second, make sure that you fix a time to sleep and don’t take your phone with you while going to sleep, simply put it on airplane mode. No message on your phone could be as precious as 4 – 6 hours of deep sleep.
2. Turn off the notifications
Okay, you have no-phone times now, and maybe you even put it on silent during that time. However, you get up and instinctively look at the phone maybe to check the time, and then you see so many notifications on the screen. Then without knowing it, you are inside the circle again. So, to make sure that your no-phone time is effective enough, you need to turn off the notifications once and forever. Furthermore, it would also prevent you from looking at your phone again and again when you are busy with something else.
3. Become Conscious
The reason why it might be so difficult to kick bad habits is we fall into them almost subconsciously. As we have gradually accustomed ourselves to them, they become a part of our natural psychological response. In short, you don’t even have to make a conscious decision to pick up your phone, it would happen automatically. To rescue yourself to this, you need to bring some change in between that makes you conscious of your problem. It could be deleting that app which you are highly likely to use or changing the homepage of the browser to something that reminds of the problem. It is much easier to break the pattern, if you become conscious when you are following it.
4. Declutter your smartphone
One by one, take a look at all your smartphone apps and ponder over them thoughtfully. Ask yourself, why do you use these apps? Is it because they help you with your work or with the aim in your life or are you just wasting your precious time? In most of the cases, it would be both i.e. they are both useful and waste of time. So, you need to focus on the one and leave the other. If you waste too much of time on a useless app, delete it. If you think that some app could help you utilize your time in better way, install at. As reverse psychology would have it, having too many educational or informative apps on your phone could be of great help in giving up your phone.
5. Check your messages like you check e-mail
Not all messages are urgent or, to put it another way, hardly any message is urgent. If something is urgent enough, you’d get a call and not a message. Therefore, it is important that you don’t keep texting all day long. It is neither urgent nor important. You should find ways of saving as much time on messaging as you can without offending others. For this, we would suggest you that you decide on particular times when you are going to view the messages and view not more than twice and thrice a day. Send suitable replies and that’s all. Don’t waste too much your time on unnecessary chatting.
6. Prioritize real world relationships
When you know that your real-world relations are suffering because of your virtual ones, then maybe it is time that you take the situation in your hands. Don’t hide behind your ego. If your friends or relatives are complaining that you are using your phone in order to ignore them, then there’s a huge probability that they are not making it up. So, first of all, confess that you are wrong. After that, you should ask them for help.
There are plenty of things that you can do to discourage your phone addiction, and to encourage real world relationships. You can go out with your friends on a walk or take them with you to dine outside. Just remember, before leaving your house either put your phone on silent or just don’t take it with you. This would make sure that you don’t start phubbing again.
7. Make hobbies that take you away from your phone
If you are practicing the above two points faithfully, then you might have start experiencing a certain boredom. This would mean that you were addicted to your phone. Although this sort of an addiction might seem different from other types, but actually it isn’t. It isn’t as harmful as drugs or alcohol, but it is harmful nevertheless. So, to get over it, you need to replace it with some good addiction. Something like working out on weekdays or learning a new language on weekends or simply starting with a novel or something creative.
Even if leave your phone only partly, you would free up at least 2-3 hours of your day. In that time, there’s endless possibility of things you can do. In addition, if you also involve your friends in your hobby or get involved in theirs, you can rest assured that you would stay motivated throughout.
8. See a counselor
If you have tried to overcome phubbing again and again, but it never worked, the problem might be more deeply rooted than you think it is. There might be depression or anxiety issues backing it up. This could specially be the case when you have a history of mental illnesses. If you think that this is the case, see your counselor asap and ask them for advice. They might suggest therapeutic procedures that would make it easier for you to put an end to smartphone addiction.
Help someone overcome phubbing
While it might be easier to overcome the problem yourself, it is difficult to help others do so, especially when they themselves don’t realize it. Yelling at them or brining the problem to their notice again and again won’t help much. It would, in fact, create a distance between you two that would make it even more difficult for you to help them out. You need to act strategically and patiently and you shouldn’t make your intentions clear all too bluntly. Here’s what you can do:
1. Practice what you preach
You might have heard the famous biblical quote, ‘First cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.’Don’t expect to free others of their vices without giving up your own as even if you succeed at doing so, it would be mere exploitation. Remember, the best way to help others is by helping yourself. Be a role model to them and then help them step by step to reach your level.
2. Lure them out of their comfort zone
Once again, you need not force them, as if you do, it would surely lead to negative consequences. First, make sure that you have some interesting going on. It could be your membership to mixed dance classes or to an attractive gym or to a Yoga workshop. Ask them whether they would like to join you, but don’t be too pushy. In case they don’t agree, make them jealous by playing on their fantasy. Tell them about the interesting people you met, or show them the result that you achieved. Make them offers they can’t refuse like introducing them to your friends etc. If inwardly they are willing to get back into the society, this should do the job.
3. Be easy on them
Don’t take it as a responsibility to rescue your loved one from phubbing within a week or month. Be patient and make slow but steady moves. Don’t give up too easily, at the same time, don’t try too hard. Although the consequences might look big, the problem isn’t. Therefore, don’t overexaggerate it. Help them get busy enough in their lives and both of you would even forget the existence of such a problem.
Can smartphones be helpful for your relationship?
Using smartphones, you can stay connected in long distance relationship or remember dates or even. Moreover, your smartphone might even help you get in touch with your old pals and stay connected. There’s a difference between using your phone and letting your phone use you. Make sure that you understand that difference and act accordingly and take control both of your smartphone and your life.