When we began our research in to this problem, we noticed that some scholars from Australia had already added a word for this into the English language; they called it the act of ‘Phubbing’ (Phone + Snubbing). But that was for the rest of the world. With every new phone sold, it was for all to see that phubbing had crept up into our lives in the Middle East, and we were phubbing each other unaware that it was even an issue.
With phubbing rampant here in the Arab World it was about time we created a word for it for Arabic speakers, to save themselves from becoming phubbers! So after discussions and more discussions the Arabic term “tfabi” was coined! Our very own translation to the act of phubbing, a single term that explained the act of snubbing someone by using your phone.
With phones literally inseparable from our lives, we came up with an innovative way to stop us from checking notifications while in company with friends. We created these cute little socks that fit our thumbs, & called them phumbs. The phumbs were made out of material that couldn’t work on touch screens, so everytime someone with a phumb tries to use their phone, it wouldn’t work and remind him/her to not phub. We decided to distribute these to the people of Kuwait for free.
On Christmas eve we placed 90 bright, eye catching phumb character boards talking about the act of phubbing, raising curiosity about the word, which led the confused straight to our booth where all the questions such as “shinu Tfabi” were answered. Everyone who pledged to not phub in the future was given a free phumb as a reminder to not phub when in company of friends and family.
The #letsnotphub campaign created an amazing amount of confusion and excitement with the term Mfabi & drew in audiences from all over world. Over 4000 pledges to not phub were made for our #letsnotphub campaign!