there’s a social trend that has been going on heavily (I’ve noticed) in the past couple of years since the introduction of smart phones and the development of such technology that is really starting to bother me… in fact, it’s been on my mind so much that I’m glad somebody has finally coined a term to describe it and a campaign to condemn those who engage in such a thing. the term ‘phubbing’ refers to ‘snubbing someone in a social situation by looking at your phone instead of paying attention’.
this campaign has been developed (by my old housemate and good friend) to stop this behaviour in coffee shops, bars, and public places.
I’m the first to admit that I partake in such an activity on a daily basis without even realising. it’s just a bad habit that we have all have developed as a result of having this technology and always having this need to be ‘connected’, ‘in the loop’…it’s become such a normal thing that most people don’t even realise they are doing it. it was only when I began to notice other people doing it to me – and having to sit there fuming over many coffee dates while my company is so caught up in the middle of a texting frenzy with some person who is not present that they scarcely look me in the eye, let alone focus on what I’m saying – that I began to become conscious of my own habit. I’m usually the kind of person who replies to everything instantly, who has to open a message and respond immediately, and gets offended when I don’t receive an immediate response or can’t get a hold of someone on their mobile. that’s all about to change. lately I have been shuddering when I hear the incessant, shrill ‘ding’ of my text tone and have become so bothered by it that I occasionally leave my phone in a different room, switched off, or at home entirely just so I don’t have to hear it. just so I can be left alone occasionally. there is something messed up in this day and age about always being able to be reached. along with the fact that there is no real phone etiquette in the respect of being ‘present’ instead of being on the phone (facebooking instead of engaging in conversation), there is also no etiquette regarding when it is acceptable to text or call people. I have had to get into the habit of turning my phone on plane mode at night to avoid an influx of messages and calls at bizarre hours (drunken friends, booty calls, people who are bored and have nothing else to do but snapchat me photos of their dog at 3am). I also have to be honest that until now I have been a serial offender of such actions.
there is this growing culture of documenting every menial task, tagging every coffee date, every place we go, sharing everything we do, on twitter, facebook, snapchat, the list goes on. once again, I am not exempt from this, I’m no social-media Saint. this behaviour has been acceptable and has been nurtured through our need to consume this information – if we’re honest, we’ve all Facebook stalked somebody out of boredom or interest in living vicariously through someone’s lives (or sunny European holiday photos when it is the dead of winter here). it helps us to form opinions on people, to get to know them a bit better. if there was no culture or demand for this, people wouldn’t be sharing such things. Facebook particularly is continually changing and adapting to make it easier to share, to tag, to locate, in fact, it is founded on promoting such behaviour. there is something a bit messed up about this… websites such as facebook, twitter and instagram leave nothing to the imagination, no mystery…it makes stalking somebody all the more easy (and being on the receiving end much more likely). this really frightens me. there are frightening consequences from being a little too truthful and open on the internet – people can find you at any given moment. they know where you work, who you hang out with, where you like to go on the weekends. there are even more frightening ramifications when people aren’t truthful on the internet. it’s just so easy to be pretend to be someone else, to glamorise certain events to make you ‘sound’ more interesting, more fun, more exciting. this makes me think about apps such as grinder. I’m not exaggerating or trying to generalise when I say I don’t know a single gay person who isn’t on grinder, it is an entirely acceptable and normal thing to engage with (even if the majority of these guys just do it for entertainment and don’t actually go on dates). and I can dig that. so when I jokingly said to one of my mates that I wish the heterosexual equivalent was that acceptable, he showed me his “tinder” account… and apparently this has become a totally acceptable and normal thing to. internet ‘dating’ (if you could call it that) apps have become less taboo in the straight community and aren’t just for pedophiles and lonely spinsters. in fact, another friend (a gorgeous, leggy blonde who would have no trouble picking up a guy in a bar) has had much success and gone on quite a few decent dates through the app. after downloading the app and trying it myself, however, I’m not entirely sure if it’s for me. the whole aspect of anonymity and the fact that random guys I don’t know are looking at my pictures, making judgements on my based on my looks, kind of scares me. who knows if these people even look anything like their photos in real life – after all there is such a thing as photoshop – and even more importantly, who knows that these people aren’t going to stalk me, kill me, peel off all my flesh and make a suit out of it (okay, a bit far, but come on!) furthermore, this app is just another way of disengaging from the current place and time and not being properly ‘present’. why would I sit and look at my phone when there are potentially attractive people all around me who I am missing out on meeting because I am too busy flicking through profiles on tinder? what happened to the good old fashioned tradition of striking up a conversation with a random stranger? sure, there is a time and place for that (and out of context can make people seem like total creeps) but I still don’t want to believe that this is dead and buried. we have become so caught up in the world of the internet and so engaged with these trends that we are forgetting how to communicate in real life.
people don’t have manners like they used to. it’s so easy to call five minutes before you’ve made plans with someone and cancel, or show up thirty minutes late, that nobody is reliable anymore. I’ve been mortified so many times at the thought of what I would do without my phone when I’ve had to pick up somebody at a certain time, or meet them in a complex situation. I honestly believed that life would be so complicated, so difficult without a phone. but after discussing this with my mum (and asking her an array of questions about what she used to do without a phone when making plans, meeting people, what if they didn’t turn up? what if they were late?) I’m beginning to realise that maybe life would be much simpler….