You know how it goes. You’re out with a friend, enjoying a coffee or, perhaps, a meal. Mid-chat their smartphone, which is resting on the table, starts vibrating. Your conversation hits rocky ground as they glance furtively at their phone and then back to you. You know you’ve lost them. You stall. “D’you wanna…” you say, throwing the handset a quick look. “I’ll just quickly…” your friend responds.
They grab their phone, tap out a text, or perhaps make a quick call. Or a fairly long one. Phone back on table. “Now, where were we?”
Or perhaps it’s you. Perhaps you’re the phubber – someone who snubs others in a social setting by engaging with their handset at inappropriate moments. Sound familiar?
Ever since phones came out of the house and into our pockets, phubbing has been a problem, even more so since the all-singing all-dancing smartphone came on the scene.
For one man, Australian Alex Haigh, it’s all become too much. The 23-year-old Melbourne resident, presumably the victim of phubbing more times than he cares to count, has recently started a campaign in an effort to end the offensive behavior.
Haigh’s Stop Phubbing campaign includes a website packed with ideas on how you can do your bit to fight phubbing and once again make social gatherings occasions that focus on the people who are there rather than those who aren’t.
The Stop Phubbing website includes a mountain of material for activists, from anti-phubbing wedding place cards to posters for owners of restaurants and bars warning patrons not to phub while on the premises. There’s even The Phubbing Hall of Shame where you can upload photos of friends mid-phub.
The site also features a pile of amusing stats – “if phubbing were a plague it would decmiate 6 Chinas” and “92 percent of repeat phubbers go on to become politicians” among them – as well as a gallery of celebrity phubbers.
Haigh isn’t the first person, and surely won’t be the last, to take on the antisocial act of phubbing. Californian Brian Perez last year came up with the Phone Stack game where diners all put their smartphones in a pile in the middle of the table. The first person to reach for their handset loses the game and has to pay for everyone’s meal.
And then there’s the LA restaurant that last year started offering diners a five percent discount on their meal if they handed over their phone before they took their seat. More recently, ad agency Fischer & Friends came up with the idea of the Offline Glass in an effort to tackle the situation.
Even if any of these initiatives help to reduce phubbing, there’s a serious challenge on the way – smartwatches. For if this device, many of which will pair with a smartphone, really takes off in the next year or two, incidents of phubbing could go off the charts. You might miss a buzz or a beep when your phone’s tucked away in your bag, but when a device on your wrist vibrates, how many people will be able to resist checking the notification….before grabbing for their bag?
[Images: Stop Phubbing]