Are you that strange beast who prefers your cyber life to your real one? Are you out with friends, but ‘checking them in’ on Facebook? Are you at a party that you’re discussing with a follower on twitter? Then my friend, you are phone-snubbing (or phubbing). It’s a new Australian term you’ll hear more about. (Check out http://stopphubbing.com/)
‘Checking Us In’
A female friend who was taking note of who was at our table at a community gay gathering was checking them in on Facebook. I was trying to have a conversation with her, but decided to question her on why she was ignoring her surroundings. She didn’t think she was by sharing the event with her online friends. I asked who outside would even care. She believed people would.
I have a few friends like this, and seriously, I don’t get it. They are surprised that I don’t keep the mobile data of my smart phone switched on. I tell them that I really don’t need to know when I receive an email, or an update on a Facebook conversation. When I need to know, I’ll check, but it is not a valid part of my waking life.
Here in body only
The worst scenario was at a function where we were all seated at dining tables to celebrate the anniversary of a community newspaper. Speeches and live entertainment were part of the night, as well as a delicious three course dinner. Hours later we were still strangers at my table. Why? Four guests spent the whole night phubbing. I said that by now we should have bypassed the small talk and had some idea of who we all were and what our passions are. But the decision of these people to only lend us their bodies while their minds were with other people, meant that conversation never flowed.
One of the phubbers had the audacity to admit that she was using her phone to text someone else at the event. “Why don’t you just get up and talk to her?” I blurted. She shrugged.
Detaching from reality
So what happens when someone has been phubbing for so long, they don’t know how to connect with reality? They face reality in a morphsuit –
These have been around for a few years now, and when I first saw the website and the long line of videos of morphsuit wearers, my first thought was that this is the physical fallout of stunted emotional interaction. Now you can take your cyber anonymity and play it out in public. Be bold behind the mask and interact as a blank canvas. Not unlike some mysterious social media users.
Seriously, I’m not a killjoy!
I’m sure there’s a lot of fun to be had in a morphsuit, but why the need for one in the first place? It’s another disguise from reality. A way to be present and experience something behind the safe confines of polyester and spandex, before retreating back to the safe confines of social media. And with all this going on, I’m genuinely concerned that we’ll have a generation who won’t remember where they’ve been or what they’ve done, until they review their lives online.