The term “phubbing” needs to die.
It’s a portmanteau of the words “phone” and “snubbing”, used to describe the act of blatantly ignoring a person you’re physically with in favour of your mobile phone. “Phubbing” sounds kind of dopey, and that to me is where the danger lies. While terms like “mansplaining”(man + explaining) or “wuss” (wimp + pussy) have obvious negative connotations, “phubbing” is rather neutral.
Introducing an innocuous-sounding term like “phubbing” normalises behaviour that we’d otherwise consider to be rude. When we’re in the presence of others, we’re expected to give our undivided attention, not fiddle with our smartphones. (“Phubbing” can actually hurt your relationships. Research shows that mobile phone usage directly affects relationship satisfaction.)
People who reject this social convention have slapped a label on to the phenomenon to make light of it. When we endorse the use of “phubbing”, we’re creating a false consensus that this is perfectly acceptable in polite society.
Luckily for me, most of my friends aren’t fans of the word “phubbing”; they much prefer the simple, monosyllabic: “RUDE”.
Three other portmanteaus that we should get rid of:
I cringe every time I hear this, and you could argue that it’s because I am a bitter single woman who does not get romantic hotel stays every quarter? Whatever. I think a staycation is just a glorified sleepover with fluffier pillows, and we should stop making it sound more exciting than it actually is.
“Paggro people suck,” a friend once declared. I nodded in agreement guiltily. I’m paggro all the time. I’d rather use passive aggressive tactics to show I’m unhappy so I can avoid direct confrontation. I know it’s not the best approach towards conflict resolution and the label just makes such subtle jabs at others seem more excusable. So it’s got to go.
Singaporeans eat anything for breakfast be it sweet bread, wanton noodles or deep fried luncheon meat. And needless to say, we have no restrictions on lunch either (why have laksa or economic rice when you can have a humongous slice of cake?). So for cafes to suggest that there are specific foods that constitute “brunch” is ludicrous. If there’s salted egg yolk-something on the menu, people will come flocking no matter the hour.
In last week’s podcast, we ask the question: Why are some people so bad at replying text messages?