Socially thinking: Phubbing. You may not know what it is, but I bet you’ve done it.


Maybe you’ve never heard the term, but I bet you’ve done it.

And if you haven’t done it, then it’s been done to you.

According to Psychology Today, phubbing is “the practice of snubbing others in favor of our mobile phones.”

We can all do it, without meaning to, but then there are those who do it because they are simply so addicted to their phones they don’t know how not to do it.

I knew someone with an addiction like this at one time. Honestly, I got tired of being shown I was not important by how often the person surfed on their phone while I was sitting in front of them. They could not stop touching it. It became very clear to me I was a complete bore to them and nothing I said mattered when they even started answering phone calls from people in mid-conversation with me and proceeded to start a conversation with that person.


I remember them saying when they picked up the phone, “No. No problem. I’m just at a friend’s house.” And then continued to have a conversation like I wasn’t there for the next five to ten minutes.  They hung up and went back to scrolling Facebook while I sat across from them, bewildered why they had stopped by. The same person couldn’t even handle walking from the soccer field to our cars without scrolling and showing me cat memes as we walked while I tried to ask about their day.

When I brought this up to the person, finally, after a year of being treated this way, their answer was “I’m not going to apologize for trying to escape the stresses of my life.” I said, “Was I the stress? I was sitting across from you when you were doing it” I didn’t get an answer to my question, but this person wasn’t going to apologize and saw nothing wrong with their behavior so we haven’t spoken in about nine months, not that we were “talking” before then either.

So what are we saying when we do this to people? We’re telling them whatever is on our phone is more important. Cat memes, the news, the latest fashions, celebrity gossip, politics, and trite comments on social sites are all more important than the person across from us. In that case, why is the person across from us even there? Why are we even there?

I think there are those of us who would crawl inside our phones and live thereto escape life if we could. I get it. Sometimes life really is stressful and we feel like we have to medicate to handle it. Sometimes we medicate with drugs, sometimes with alcohol, sometimes with food and in this day and age, we medicate with escapism. No matter what we use, we are filling our lives with things that really won’t actually fill the voids in our lives or the holes within us. And while we are medicating ourselves we are pushing away people who really care about us and what to actually communicate with us and we are pushing away God.


All photos by Lisa R. Howeler

I’ve fallen into the trap of burying myself in social media to avoid the stress of life. That may be why I accepted the phubbing that was done to me for so long, but when it hit me how much I was missing by being completely absorbed in my phone – in things that will not matter in the long run — I put the phone down. I looked around me and realized how pervasive technology addiction had become in our society. Sitting at soccer practice one time, I looked down an entire row of parents, all sitting, their necks bent over their phones, their fingers simply scrolling, while their children practiced soccer in front of them.

None of them talked to each other or looked at their children. They were like robots working for the tech companies, lining their pockets with their views and their purchases and their “hits.” It made me sick to my stomach and it made me sick to my stomach that that had been me at one point, though for a more brief time than some.

The sad thing is that eventually the person who you chose your phone over stops trying to interact with you and also stops caring if you interact with them.

That’s what happened with the person in my life. I realized they could care less that I cared about them. They were more interested in their phone, in what they could pin on Pinterest, and what photo of their latest diet they could post on Instagram. I stopped wondering how they were, what they thought, or what was going on in their life.

Honestly, I do still wonder about the person from time to time, even pray for them, but the idea of trying to engage them in friendship again gives me a sick feeling in my stomach. The human part of me doesn’t want to be rejected again but  I also realize now that if that person had cared about me, they would have listened when I told them I felt their phone was more important than our friendship, instead of saying “I’m not going to apologize.”

Hopefully, the person has since resolved this issue and now shows family and other friends they do care about them, by putting the phone down when talking to them.  I know where my place was in their life, thought, and wouldn’t step back into that place again for anything.


photo by Lisa R. Howeler available on

The one good thing that came from that situation is it showed me how addicted I had also become to social media and how it was causing me to ignore people and activities in my life that were not only more important but more edifying to my overall life.  After the repeated phubbing done to me, I worked harder not to do it others and I also cut back on social media, even deleting my Facebook account for four months. I realized that social media-based relationships were completely unfulfilling to me.

Since then I’ve decided to try to implement some changes to my life to help reduce technology addiction, as well as phubbing. Some of them I had already implemented two years ago.

Changes I plan to implement or have already started to (some of these were suggested from an article about phubbing on Healthline, others simply from various sites, and others simply from my own ideas):

  • Making meals a place where no phones are allowed (we already do this at my parents when we have Sunday dinners, only allowing my dad to take a photo of dinner before we start, if it is a particularly lovely looking dinner that is);
  • Leave my phone behind for some trips, though this always makes me nervous because I worry someone will need to reach me in an emergency;
  • Institute a no-technology hour which has become even more important for me to do now that my son has his own phone and is showing signs of addiction. We’ve done this before and have really enjoyed the quiet, the increase opportunity for creativity and the way we can connect on a deeper level as a family;
  • Make people charge their phones or devices in a central area of the house, which will encourage them to engage with others when they come to hook up their devices. I have not tried this yet, but since reading about it earlier today I absolutely want to try it.


Changes I made two years ago (maybe more), include:

  • No Facebook app on my cellphone, so the temptation to look at it while talking to someone in person is gone. I’ve also stepped this up and removed Instagram and YouTube as well. Sometimes I even shut the sounds off to keep the dinging notification sound of texting from triggering dopamine and causing me to want to see who has sent me a message. There are actually only two people who message me regularly: my brother or my husband. Any other messages I receive are people who want something from me and then ignore me all other times of the year.
  • No looking at social media at least two hours before bed (somedays I do better at this than others, especially if there is a breaking news story unfolding.)
  • No devices or computer at all, other than my Kindle, up to an hour before trying to sleep (this works only when I’m not working on a book because I tend to write a little before bed since it is one of the only times during the day I have to write.) I really like this one when I stick to it because it helps me slow down my thoughts and relax more.

We can implement all the changes to our technology habits we want, but until we look at how our choosing our devices over people we love affects the psyche of those people, we probably won’t implement any changes.

We have to ask ourselves, in the long run, will what we read on Facebook matter when we are looking back on our life at the end of it? Will the latest cat meme, the latest celebrity gossip, or the latest political rant by your dad matter at the end of your life if it caused you to lose your connection with someone in your life who wanted to connect with you in person?

I think for most of us, the answer to those questions will be ‘no.’



Creatively Thinking: Too much social media kills creativity

I’ve decided the more I’m off social media, the more creative I can be, which is why it looks like another social media detox is coming up in the next week or so and it may last 30-days like I did earlier this year.

Actually, saving my creativity isn’t the only reason for dropping off social media – saving my sanity is more important at this point. In May I actually deleted my Facebook account, except for a ghost account to keep my blog page on there. Ignoring my better judgment, I went back on at the end of the summer and I can’t see that it has improved my life much at all.

When I slip into a depression slump I find myself scrolling through social media too much and when I scroll through social media too much I don’t do things I need to do or really want to do, like write my book or write a blog post or take photographs or – blah – clean the house. I just end up a depressed, moody slug sitting in front of my computer. I also end up angry, bitter and frightened for my childrens’ future.

000010_DSC_8259 (1)

This past spring I did a social media detox and that’s when I started writing ‘A Story to Tell’ and decided to publish it as a weekly serial on here and then as a Kindle book. The success for me was simply how writing the story, and sharing it on my blog, was a distraction from social media, “news”, and from some challenging relationships in my life.

When I go on social media, I end up so wrapped up in the nonsense I read that I neglect the parts of my life that actually bring me joy — especially the more creative parts.


Social media is an addiction for many people. If you think it isn’t for you, do what I did last December and focus on how often you reach for your phone or computer to log into social media each day. Notice how many times you log into social media when you’re bored, lonely, procrastinating or avoiding real life (or certain people). I bet it’s more than you think because I know it was for me.

Another important aspect of learning how social media affects you is to notice how you feel after you sign off social media, or a news site.  Do you feel happier? I’m going to guess the majority of us can’t say that we feel anymore enlightened, elated, or hopeful about life after we’ve scrolled through a social media site. On the contrary, we probably feel like the world is on fire.

For creatives, it’s important to ask yourself if social media supports or hinders your creative flow. I’ve personally found that excessive social media use rarely supports creativity. In fact, for me, the constant digital noise I once engaged in silenced creativity altogether.

How can you think of new ideas, or use your imagination, when someone, or something, is constantly in your ear telling you what you think and who you are? More than once in the last two years, I have read about the need for all of us to seek more solitude and shut out the noise of the world around us.

Silence can facilitate daydreaming and daydreaming supports and strengthens our imagination. Imagination leads to creativity and then creativity leads to joy for even the most left-brained person out there. Creativity isn’t always about the arts . Creativity is also important for technical thinkers out there who need time create plans for projects or lists for completing whatever it is that helps them feel more organized. For many of us, organization helps us feel more grounded. Not having the time to create that organization because we are distracted by social media can leave us feeling discombobulated. 


I have asked myself why there were so many great writers hundreds of years ago and less of them today? I have a feeling it is because hundreds of years ago the only thing people had time to do when the sun went down was think and daydream.

It’s not that social media is all evil. It connects us with new people, new ideas, and different worlds. It helps us reach people in a way we never could before. The evil part of social media is that we have allowed it, and what is shared on it, to distract us to the point that we have pushed aside activities that could actually further our society. Social media has no power over us that we don’t give it and many of us (me included) have given it awhole lot of power, let me tell you.

I don’t have any proof that inventions and innovations have decreased since the Internet and social media took over the world, and the exact opposite may be true in some fields, but I wonder if cures for cancer, or solutions to climate change, would have been found already if half of us weren’t scrolling social media; watching the circuses that are our congresses and parliaments; judging our neighbors; tsk-tsking the family member or acquaintance  in the middle of a divorce who has decided to write about it on social media; comparing ourselves to every other mother, writer, photographer, human being on the planet; and trying to change ourselves to fit some imaginary ‘normal’ in society.

Think about all the positive changes we could have made, not only in our own personal lives but in the world in general, if we weren’t staring at cat memes on our phones all day long. I have a feeling Satan knows that and has enjoyed dangling stupidity in front of us so we wander off the path we should have been taking all along.

All of this to say, I need another social media detox and you probably need it too. During my break last year and earlier this year, I offered some tips how to “survive” (or rather thrive) when you leave social media (even if only for 30-days); what I had time to do once I set social media aside; and how I felt when I logged back into Facebook after such a long break.

I know some of my blog readers aren’t even on social media (God bless you!) and some were on and promptly logged back off again. What’s your experience with social media? Do you find it stifles your creativity or productivity? How do you handle that? Are you better than me at balancing social media with your real life? If so, I’d love some pointers about how you do it. Let me know your thoughts in the comments. The last time I wrote about social media (Facebook for most of us), I had some really fun and insightful comments. 



The noise of social media is deafening

The mental noise stirred up by social media is deafening – so deafening we can’t hear ourselves think. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest are all blaring in our ears and the words they are screaming are “Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!” Every one of those sites wants our attention and that means our focus is divided in at least five different digital-based ways throughout the day. Add to that the attention we need for our jobs and our families that doesn’t leave much time for us to think or catch our mental breath. It certainly doesn’t leave much time for ourselves, or more importantly, God.


Last week I found myself caught up in scrolling too much. I scrolled this site and that site and flipped from this app to that app. Throw in some family, and other, life stresses and my brain was practically buzzing by the end of the week, and not in a good way. My thoughts were flitting from one quandary to the next, every few moments. It was like I was turning the channels on the TV or flipping through YouTube videos, only it was my panicked thoughts.

Sitting in the bathtub in a near panic attack from the inability to focus on one thought at a time, I knew what I had to do. I picked up my phone and started deleting apps. I deactivated Facebook, took Instagram off my phone (Facebook hasn’t been on my phone for over a year) and then slid the phone far away from me and picked up a book.

My brain is a jumbled mess on speed even without social media. Throw in a thousand photos or articles at me a day about God knows what, and my brain overloads and eventually shuts down, sending me to a corner, hyperventilating and repeating “There’s nothing like silence” over and over again. Honestly, our brains weren’t made for social media. Our brain can’t comprehend so much information being shoved at it at one time.


When I first started all this social media nonsense, I could handle a few hours of it a day before my brain filter broke and I had to log off. Eventually, I could only be on a couple hours a day and then it was an hour and now I can barely handle five minutes (some days much, much less) before I simply log back off again. Everyone has an opinion and I’m tired of having to muster up the mental energy to either agree or disagree with that opinion. So often I can’t even manage to care what someone else is thinking about or doing, let alone care what hundreds of people think about an issue.

Detoxing from social media helps my mental health immensely, but it also increases my creativity and productivity. Imagine what we could all accomplish if we turned over our phones and computers more often – or at least silenced the social media monster.



In need of stock photography for your blog, event, church, or other organization? You can find my stock images at or