What Does Phubbing Mean?

Phubbing is a term created by the combination of the words phone and snubbing. It refers to a person interactiing with their phone (or other device) rather than interacting with a human being. The use of this, and other terms around mobile device use, showcases a growing issue with different kinds of technology, including the delicate balance of sharing time and attention when facing two very different interactions at the same time.


Techopedia Explains Phubbing

The origin of the term phubbing is attributed to a campaign from the McCann Melbourne company in 2012, when grassroots groups started to promote so-called polite use of mobile devices. Many have observed people snub each other through technology use, and how businesses and public spaces often discourage some kind of device use. For example, a restaurant or bar might put up a sign asking people to respect the atmosphere and be social in their real environment, rather than snapping, texting and tweeting their way through the night.

About a year into the stop phubbing campaign, positive results showed that many people were paying attention to how others use their devices, and how to sustain and promote human interaction in all kinds of different venues and spaces. From family dinners or intimate meals to reunions and public events, and in the workplace, the anti-phubbing campaign is very relevant to situations where people feel marginalized by the virtual world inside wireless and IP networks. Looking closer at these campaigns shows more about how humans are adapting to new technology in a very different kind of social world that is more and more digitized and less and less connected to the physical "meat space," a popularized term for actual face-to-face social settings.


Related Terms

Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.