To Phubb or Not to Phubb?


What follows is an excerpt from my new book, Too Much of a Good Thing: Are You Addicted to Your Smartphone?


If it can happen to the Great Beyonce, then it can happen to you and me. The image is seared into my long-term memory. As seen on the website, Hip-hop Mogul and rap superstar, Jay-Z, is seen checking out the latest breaking news on his cell phone while the Great Beyonce cools her heels in the background - a shell of her attention-grabbing stage persona. And, I am reasonably sure that all of us have been both the phubber and the phubbee.

Here's a big word for you: Portmanteau. A Portmanteau is a word that is a combination of two words being smashed together. In the present case, phubbing is a splicing together of the words "phone" and "snubbing." To be phubbed is to be snubbed by someone using their cell phone while in your company. The "phubb" could be an interruption of your conversation with someone when he or she uses their cell phone or is distracted by it (furtive glances when they think you're not looking) instead of paying attention to you. Maybe worse, you've been phubbed if someone used their cell phone instead of communicating with you while in close proximity to you. Oh, the shame.

Do you phubb people? Yes No
Have you been phubbed? Yes No

I gave you a choice with the first question, but I know the answer to the second. We've all been phubbed repeatedly and we don't like it. In my new book, Too Much of a Good Thing: Are You Addicted to Your Smartphone?, I talk about how your smartphone use can cause conflict in your romantic relationships and how your love life might be a bit better off with a little less phubbing.

But for now the spotlight is going to remain on you and your phubbing tendencies. My good friend and colleague, Dr. Meredith David, and I have developed a 9-item phubbing scale and you now have the opportunity to do a little self-assessment by answering the phubbing questions that appear below. You can easily score yourself and see where you fall on the phubbing continuum.

Please be honest when responding to the nine phubbing statements. You will not be asked to turn in your work (remember I am a college professor) and this will only be helpful if you take an "eyes wide-open" approach to your self-evaluation. Simply check "yes" or "no" to each of the phubbing statements.

Are You a Phubber?

1. When I am having a meal with others (at home or in a restaurant) I will pull out and
check my cell phone. Yes No

2. I always have my cell phone in sight when I am spending time with others. Yes No

3. I often keep my cell phone in my hand when I am with others. Yes No

4. If my cell phone rings or beeps I will pull it out and check even if I am talking with someone.
Yes No

5. I have been caught glancing at my cell phone when talking to someone. Yes No

6. When I am hanging with friends I don't hesitate to check my cell phone if I am bored or get a text,
or other notification. Yes No

7. I will use my cell phone when I am talking with friends. Yes No

8. I use my cell phone when I am on a date or with my romantic partner. Yes No

9. If there is a lull in a conversation, I will diddle with my cell phone. Yes No

Bonus Question:

I have used my cell phone in bed while my partner was present. Yes No

This last question is not an official part of the phubbing scale, but might, in my humble estimation, be the worst phubb of them all.

So, Are You a Phubber?

This is where the rubber meets the road. Have you been dishing out more than your fair share of phubbs or have you learned to navigate the stormy waters of socially acceptable cell phone use? To calculate your score, simply add up the number of "yes" responses to each of the nine statements and check how you did below.

6+ "yes" responses

I will personally enroll you in The Betty Ford Clinic for habitual phubbers.

3-5 "yes" responses

You are not there yet but are on the edge of the slippery slope of phubbing.

1-2 "yes" responses

You are a master of cell-control or you don't have any friends (just kidding).

Visit to learn more about you and your smartphone.