Cell Phones With Friends

Man using cell phone over meeting with girlfriend. Rzeszow, Poland
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Have you ever been with a friend who is on her cell phone more than she talks to you when you are together? Do you ever feel that your friends are distracted by their cell phones to the point of not hearing what you have to say in person? Or are you that person who ignores the live relationship in favor of a text conversation? The act of a person who chats on the phone and ignores her friend is now called "phubbing."

Being There—Live and in Person

One of the most important things you can do to nurture any relationship is to listen to the other person, whether you're with her on communicating via cell phone. However, there are priorities that you need to adhere to, with the live interaction coming first and the phone taking a backseat until you are alone. Doing otherwise could be off-putting and cause the other person to avoid being with you in the future.


One of the most annoying phenomena is how cell phones have taken over our lives and made many of us unaware of what is physically going on around us. When we ignore the person we are with to talk or send a message over our cell phones, we are being rude. Phubbing is never a good thing if you want to be socially acceptable. In fact, when people do this to me, I stop making plans with them.

Tips for Balancing Live Interaction and Your Phone

Most of us have our phones on us at all times. After all, you never know when there might be an emergency. This is fine, but you need to maintain proper etiquette when you are in a social situation.

Here are some things you can do:

  1. Put your phone on silent when you are with friends. Doing so ensures your undivided attention to your live relationship…that is if you can resist the urge to check your phone every few minutes. If you are concerned about missing something that really is important (like a house fire or a child falling and breaking a bone), put the phone on vibrate and only glance at it momentarily before giving the person you are with your full attention.
  2. Be empathetic. How do you feel when you are sharing a bonding experience with a friend or romantic partner who constantly glances at his or her phone? No one likes to be ignored…or have the feeling that we're less important than the person who isn't physically there. So treat the person the way you would want to be treated and put your phone away.
  3. Don't make plans if you have to be on the phone. If you know that someone is going to call you, and you need to talk to that person, schedule your live plans with your friends for another time or day when you won't be as distracted.
  4. Put your phone away during a meal. You'll digest your food better, and the dining experience will be much more enjoyable for you and your friends if you concentrate more on lively dinner conversation and less on your phone.
  5. If you must deal with a phone call or text say, "Excuse me. I'll only be a few seconds." Then take care of whatever you have to and let the caller or texter know that you'll get back with him later.
  6. When you are in a restaurant, phubbing while the server is taking your order or delivering your meal is rude. This person works hard to make sure you are satisfied and comfortable, so you need to give him or her your attention.
  7. Never text or chat on the phone when you are standing across the counter from a cashier. It's rude to the cashier and the people in line behind you to divert your attention from the transaction. If you are on the phone when it's your turn to check out, tell the person on the phone that you'll get back after you finish paying.
  8. Never use your phone when you are attending someone's wedding. All of your attention should be on the bride and groom. They've invited you because they want you to share their special moment, so honor them by being there physically, mentally, and emotionally.
  9. Avoid using your phone when attending a funeral. Texting or chatting on the phone during a funeral is crass. Don't do it.
  10. Stay off your phone when you are at a symphony, in the movie theater, or at a concert. You (or someone who wants you to have a good time) paid a lot of money to enjoy the entertainment, so get your money's worth. Besides, if you use your phone during the event, the people around you will become annoyed.

The Dangers of Phubbing

If you are a habitual cell phone user, to the point of ignoring others around you, there are certain bad things you'll have to face. Here are a few:

  • Friends will quit asking you to join them. They are tired of being ignored, so they move on to other pals who want to "keep it real."
  • You'll eventually have digestive problems. Not paying attention to your environment can cause you to eat too quickly, and gulping your food down is bad for you.
  • If you use your phone during a business meeting, you will be considered rude and may lose the opportunity for future promotions and raises.
  • You'll lose your communication and interaction skills that can hurt you in social and professional situations.

What to Do About Phubbing Friends

If you have a friend who can't stay off her phone, and she's someone you'd like to maintain a relationship with, it may be time to show some tough love. Here are some things you can do:

  • Next time she invites you to join her, ask her to leave her phone at home. She'll probably say she can't do that, and if she does, tell her you'll take a rain check.
  • Next time you have a party, don't invite your friends who are the worst phubbing offenders. When they ask why they were left off the guest list, be honest and say that you want people who want to socialize and have real fun.
  • If your friend whips out her phone and starts chatting or texting while you are together, get up and leave. She may not notice that you're gone right away, but when she does, you'll have the opportunity to tell her why you left.
  • Without gossiping, stage an intervention with other friends of the phubber. Let the offender know that you love her, but the constant chatting and texting on the cell phone, while you are together, is getting out of control. Tell her that you want her back the way she used to be, before she got so wrapped up in her phone. You can expect some pushback if you do this, so be prepared for a reaction.