Have you ever heard of Phubbing?

Hello there you remarkable and inspiring human, how are you today?  I hope this finds you feeling well, and doing good where you can.  I’m excited to share this short podcast with you today.  This past week I was in a room full of teens talking about the beauty and the challenges in life.  During that conversation I told this room of incredible adolescents, that I had come up with a new word… the new word was ‘Cell-Phonishness’.  I’m telling you, that word is a mouthful… i mean, try saying it a few times… cell-phonishness.  The basic idea, and I’m sure you can already guess from hearing the word, cell-phonishness is a mixture of ‘cell phone’ and ‘selfishness.’  This concept came to me as I thought of an old expression that we used to use when describing someone who was self-centered, selfish, or self-absorbed… we would say that that person “can’t see beyond the tip of their nose.”  It simply means that that person has a difficult time considering other people, other people’s opinions, or thinking of other people’s needs, instead of just their own.  In addition, this also meant that the person lacked some perspective, meaning that they couldn’t see beyond the present moment, and consider the impact of their choices.  

As I thought about that idea, I realized that all of us today not only need to find a way to look beyond the tips of our noses, but in addition, we now have to also look beyond our phones, to see others, and to expand our perspective… and that is where the term ‘Cell-Phonishness’ came to me.  As I was explaining this to this incredible group of students, one of them said, “I think there’s already a term for that, it’s called phubbing!”  Phubbing, is a mixture of the word ‘Phone’ and ‘Snubbing.’  Snubbing means that you ignore or refuse to acknowledge someone.  So ‘Phubbing’ simply means that you use your phone (intentionally or not) to ignore people or ignore the world around you.  My awesome friends, I promise I’m not going to launch on some rant or long lecture about the evils of using cell phones, because your challenges are my challenges.  When you’re walking through the hallways of your school, or standing in line at a store, or around your friends and family, or on a date, or at a football game, or at lunch, or wherever you find yourself, or perhaps if you’re feeling a bit bored, or uncomfortable, or if you want to avoid someone, I know how easy it is to hop on that screen, and hide… or ‘Phub’ that person or situation.  I do it, and I’m pretty sure that you do it as well.  So here we are, despite our difference in ages, my struggles are your struggles, and my sole motivation and purpose here today, is to bring this to your awareness… to help you to see this behavior, which in turn will help you to do something a little better… a little wiser, and perhaps a little more courageous.  

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that we can’t hide from the world, from others, and from the challenges that show up at our door, and demand our focus, energy, and attention.  My ability, and your ability to show up and face the circumstances in our life is absolutely critical.  Your happiness strategy is not inside your phone, it’s out there… outside of your phone.  Your happiness strategy is the path where you, as an independent and free thinking human being, choose to:

  1. Do things that Promote Positive Feelings.  In other words, you engage in activities that create positive feelings of excitement, happiness, laughter, adventure, achievement, peace, confidence, relaxation, success, etc.  Sprinkle your life with activities that promote positive feelings.  Quick question by the way… 

  2. You choose to Be Engaged.  Being engaged is all about you choosing to invest in habits, and skills that create a sense of mastery and confidence in your life.  From playing an instrument, to playing a sport, to any artistic pursuit, to computer programing, to any other skill… choose to engage and invest in skills that will fill your life with mastery and skill.

  3. You choose to Invest in Positive Relationships.   You’ve heard me say it.  The greatest predictor of short and long-term happiness is positive and quality relationships.  In fact, your ability to create and take care of your relationships and your social networks is directly connected to your success in the future as well.

  4. You choose to Matter and Add Meaning to Your Life.  You do this by contributing to your life and the life of others, and also to belonging and serving something that is greater than you.

  5. You choose to Create Achievement in your life.  This last step is directly connected to being engaged, and it’s all about you taking the time to build on your strengths, practicing your skills, and as a result encouraging a sense of achievement.  Whether it’s passing a test, or cooking a meal, or running a race, or drawing, or beating your best time, or effort.  Take the time to create achievement in your life.  

Now your phone can act as an instrument to help you do all of those things.  I certainly use my phone as the means to stay connected and nurture relationships, to add meaning to my life, and to create opportunities for engagement and achievement, and honestly, I know that you do as well.  My only suggestion, is that you improve your ability to use this incredible tool and instrument that your smartphone is, and use it as a way to engage in the world, and to help you engage in those 5 things I just mentioned, instead of using your cell phone, as a way for you to hide from the world, and avoid people and circumstances that can help you to grow.  In other words, my suggestion is… increase your ability to see when you’re phubbing life and people around you, and work on mentally being where your feet are.  Here are some suggestions to help you stop phubbing.  Use as many as you like and add some of your own:

  1. When you’re with your friends, only use your phone as a way to enhance the experience, instead of phubbing them, while you watch videos, or chat with other people who aren’t present.  Be where your feet are!

  2. When you’re in class.  Unless you’re using your phone to enhance your learning process, put it away, stop phubbing, and be where your feet are!

  3. At the dinner, lunch, or breakfast table.  When you’re with friends or family, keep that phone somewhere away from you, or in your pocket, and commit to not bringing it out, no matter how much it buzzes, beeps, or rings.  Stop Phubbing and be where your feet are!

  4. When you’re with family, cousins, grandparents, aunts, etc, resist the urge to reach for that phone to fill that moment of awkwardness, or silence, and instead ask a question, offer to help, or start another topic of conversation.  If you use your phone, use it to enhance the interaction and the connection, not as a way to avoid it… stop phubbing and be where your feet are!

  5. When you’re in the middle of an activity such as a game, movie, hike, dance, date, etc, don’t hide out in the corner watching your own videos, youtubes, or chatting with others on social media.  Stop phubbing and be where your feet are.

I’m sure there are a million more examples and suggestions, and I don’t really want to bore you.  I trust that you know exactly what I’m talking about, and that you can take these tools and apply them in your life, for what will absolutely be a better happiness strategy.  A lot of research has now connected teens' social media and phone usage to higher levels of loneliness, depression, suicidality, and anxiety.  I’m not here to scare you, I respect you too much.  In fact, I’m filled with confidence and know that you will continue to find ways to use that incredible instrument that you hold in the palm of your hands to be an accelerant, or as an enhancement to your life, instead of a tool of avoidance, cell-phonishness, and phubbing.  Be where you are.  Engage where you are.  Invest where you are.  Build your social and confidence skills, instead of immediately opting out of the real world, in plugging in to the virtual world.  Once again, no pressure here, no guilt or shame here.  We’re just talking about strategy.  We’re just talking about wise and intelligent skills that I absolutely know will add to your overall happiness, joy, and meaning.  Above all be wise my friend, and learn to see beyond your nose, and beyond that phone that sometimes obscures your view like a total eclipse.  Remember line upon line, a little here, and a little there.  Perfection is not necessary here, but improvement will greatly improve your life.  So, final words, become aware of how and when you are phubbing people and circumstances, and instead make an intelligent commitment to being invested and engaged where your feet are, and stop the cell-phonishness and the phubbing.  Enjoy.