Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Phubbing around for too long, gotta quit

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I learned a new word the other day. It really brought home to me some anti-social behaviours I've been exhibiting lately, and I want to apologize in public to all who have been affected by them, especially my family.

So, the neologism is phubbing. It was apparently invented by an Australian advertising firm to describe the act of snubbing the people who are physically in your presence in favour of the ghostly ones inside your phone. They started a hilarious site against phubbing, apparently as part of an elaborate ad campaign for a dictionary, but amusing nonetheless. Visit stopphubbing.com for a chuckle.

So here goes. My name is Hadass, and I am an inveterate phubber. I freely confess that I am addicted to that "cold, rectangular thing with the pretty lights." Sometimes the use is justified, such as when somebody asks me to look something up, but more often, it isn't. Shame on me.

My kids have had a "no toys at the table" rule since they were little. The other day, they applied it to me. Oh, the pain.

Sometimes I have work I need to do, and things I need to look up or deal with. This is true, but the key word here is "sometimes." Working from home, as I do, it's important to set boundaries for my little pocket taskmaster. I don't need to be always on and always available. I'm already offline for 26 hours every week -- I have no problem turning all of the electronics off for Shabbat. I need to find a way to extend that courtesy to my family and friends at other times, while fulfilling my online obligations as well.

I need to set times that I am working, and other times when I am available to the real, breathing humans around me, with full attention. They will not be there forever. I don't want to look up one day and realize that they've gone off and I didn't even notice. So I hereby declare: I will phub no more. When I am with real humans, I will give them my attention. I may occasionally need to interact with another real human via the phone, but I will not go wandering off into cyberland.

How about you? Are you ready to ditch the phubbing and come back to real life?

 

Winnipegger Hadass Eviatar blogs at hadasseviatar.com.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 25, 2013 A13

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