With the creation of technological devices, came the creation of entirely new words. A few years ago, words such as selfie, hashtag and ghosting were non-existent in the everyday vocabulary. However they are now engrained and typical features in our vocabulary.
The average person spends over 4 hours a day mindlessly scrolling through social media feeds, replying to messages or using their smart phones. Similarly, it has become commonplace for the majority of communication to take place via technology virtually. Unfortunately, whilst technology has allowed human beings to communicate in ways never thought imaginable, this obsession with smartphones comes at a cost to social relationships.
Phubbing – the combination of ‘phone’ and ‘snubbing’ — is a term coined to describe being ignored by someone using their phone. A recent US survey reported 9 out of 10 individuals used their smartphone in some form during their last social interaction. Given this, it is likely we are all culprits of being both the receiver and giver of phubbing at some point. Ask yourself to remember the last social interaction you had — did you pick up your phone when you got a notification, choosing to devote your attention to that instead of the person next to you?
Snubbing has become an accepted part of modern life and may seem harmless, however, with the average person checking their smartphone approximately 150 times per day (once every 6.5 minutes), phubbing is an increasing and real issue that must be addressed.
A decade ago, smartphones were a thing of the future. Now, individuals find it hard to imagine a day without such devices. Technology companies purposefully feed on humans’ need for interaction and acceptance. When we use technology and feel connected to others through likes, comments or messages, a surge of dopamine is released. Dopamine is released during pleasurable or rewarding experiences and helps us to seek instant gratification or communication. If seeking is rewarded, then we are likely to seek more communication, making it harder to stop. For example, after receiving a text message, it is harder to avoid checking your smartphone for new notifications. Humans are hardwired to be social with real connections crucial for health and happiness. Consequently we look for more social connections via technology, however, this comes at a detrimental cost.
Technology is a double edged sword. It can foster relationships — enabling communication with people on the other side of the world — but also hinder interpersonal connectedness with those around us. The presence of a phone during conversation – even if it just sitting in plain sight, interferes with interpersonal connections. At the core of relationships is an authentic connection. The presence of a phone decreases feelings of closeness and conversation quality. If a phone is present in a social situation, an individual often tends to devote some of their attention to looking at their phones, as opposed to the person in front of them.