Here's how to tell if you're guilty of 'sidebarring' your friends or partner

  • 71% of us are guilty of texting someone when we’re supposed to be spending time with someone else.
  • It’s called “sidebarring” and it’s really annoying.
  • However good you think you are at multitasking, you’re unlikely to get away with this one.

Many of us are glued to our phones. Whether we’re expecting an important message or simply wanting to see the reactions to a great meme we just sent to the group chat, our phones make us feel more connected to the people we don’t get to see all the time.

But that’s not always a good thing. Sometimes we prioritise these electronic connections over what’s happening in real life. In fact, if you’re always messaging someone else when you’re having dinner with a friend, at an event, or on a date (shame on you), there’s a word for that. It’s called “sidebarring.”

It basically means that you’re texting someone while you’re supposed to be doing something else. And according to a Facebook study, 71% of us are guilty of it.

For those of you who think you’re good at multitasking and can do this unnoticed, you’re wrong.

According to one study from 2015, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, focusing on a visual task like texting or typing on a computer can make us deaf to normal volume sounds around us. It’s called “inattentional deafness,” which helps explain why when someone looks up from their lap, they had no idea what you just said to them.

Although we all might try to multitask, certain areas of our brains might only be able to concentrate on one thing at a time.

Science aside, it’s also pretty obvious when you’re in a dark environment, and your face is illuminated by the glow of the phone screen.

Facebook tried to put a positive spin on the findings, saying that most people say messaging makes them feel closer to friends. But anyone who has been the victim of their friend or date trying to inconspicuously text in front of them will tell you it’s annoying as hell.

If you think you’re being sidebarred, try screaming your question at the person who should be focusing on you. The 2015 study found that loud sounds can break the barrier, so it will bring them back to the present. It will also make your feelings about the situation clear.

Or you could just choose to spend time with someone who gives you their undivided attention. Your call.

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