Advocating for a Phubb-Free Zone


Lucy Wagner, Reporter

The world in which my generation has grown up in has seen many technological advances, with the iPhone typically at the center of our universe. Almost everyone has access to social media accounts such as Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter. And while I’ll be the first one to say I have possessed an unhealthy relationship to my phone, I’m increasingly concerned with how our relationships with others are being defined by this small piece of metal that accompanies us wherever we go. This technology may be the future, but is that entirely a good thing?

One of my biggest pet peeves is hanging out with someone, only to have them constantly checking their phone for texts, snaps, and other social media notifications. Many members of my generation are guilty of unknowingly “phubbing” – a mix of “phone” and “snubbing” – a new term coined to describe the act of interacting with your phone instead of paying attention to the people around you, or using the phone as a distraction if a conversation turns awkward. Certainly I have been in that situation. But in reality, this generally makes the scenario more awkward. It leaves me with the impression that my friend would rather be doing something else. I realize that the majority of the time phubbing is instinctive to our generation and that we are not purposefully doing it to be rude. Honestly, though, I would much rather make plans with someone I know will put away their phone when we are together rather than someone I know will have it out and compulsively check it.
We are beginning to increasingly rely on the Internet for communication and rely less on
“in-person” relationships with our friends. Our generation has become quite adequate at interacting through texts and snaps – but we often lack the ability to converse in person. According to a poll conducted by, 87% of teens said they preferred holding a conversation via text than face-to-face. Many of the text conversations conducted over the phone is small talk. That is, light exchanges that are not crucial to maintaining friendships but which help to maintain some degree of contact.

When discussion dwindles and there is an awkward silence, what does our generation do? We rely on our phone like a crutch. It creates the optical illusion that we have very important things to attend to and, oh no this conversation isn’t awkward! It’s just very urgent that I check so-and-so’s Instagram to find out who they went to the game with last night! Can you imagine a future in which couples sit in silence because they can only communicate via text? Can you imagine a future in which real smiles are replaced by emojis?