Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Sidebarring - Nay or Yay?

Last week I attended a book launch along with a friend. The venue was teeming with people and guests milled in the room amid rush and murmur of voices. The acoustics were bad and the panelists went on and on about their books. When the ‘I-Me- Myself’ spiel continued much after an hour, I sent a text message to my friend sitting in the next row.

‘Bored to death. Let’s slink out for some fresh air.’

She responded instantly, ‘Me too. The whole freaking event is so tiresome.’

‘Will they serve refreshments? I’m thirsty.’

To which she messaged, ‘They should, I need a cuppa coffee.’

Next few minutes were spent exchanging texts in a room of fifty odd people. While both of us engaged in a secret phone conversation in public, the host was sidebarred in the flurry of our texts.

I can sense that you are rolling your eyes and wondering where this is leading, right?

So I have to tell you that nothing can be more apt than talking about my experience and sharing the new word in The Macmillan Dictionary – Sidebarring
Sidebarring is essentially the practice of having a text conversation in a meeting or a social gathering when the subject of your conversation is present in the vicinity. The term takes its name from the fact that many smart phones have a sidebar button to ignore or mute calls. 

Does it offend? Maybe. Does it entertain? Absolutely.

Don’t judge me because chances are that you have done it too. Hand on your heart and out with the truth. If the answer is an emphatic NO, you are fibbing. Or you don’t have Whatsapp on your phone. Or you could be a monk, but it is unlikely that a monk will read this blog. Anyway, according to a study more than 70% of us have indulged in the act of sidebarring. 

And if you think you are a master at juggling several tasks, let me burst your holy bubble. The study says that it is virtually impossible to pay full attention to a conversation while texting. Because when you are texting, you are partially deaf to the surrounding sounds. Which is why the ‘multi-tasking’ excuse won’t pass.
Also, when you look down at your phone slyly thinking no one’s watching - the glowing light of your phone and your thumb jog makes it known that you are not in the zone. The truth is as obvious as watching a politician make election promises or Salman say that he is a virgin on a chat show.

Now that we know ‘Sidebarring’ is universal, could it be possible that Rohit Sharma and MS Dhoni exchanged texts lampooning the wasteful wedding expenditure during the Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma reception? 
Ah, junk it.

It’s tricky to pass moral judgements, because if you are in a boring meeting or enduring an inane verbose lecture, talking about people in the same room can provide a delicious kick. However it could be undesirable, even discourteous, if you invite a group of friends over lunch and two of them engage in ‘sidebarring’ you. Bam that would hurt, no? Sidebarring is already a 'brutal dating trend' according to a UK tabloid.

Why do we indulge in sidebarring when we know that it’s obvious and disrespectful to those present in the room? For one, it’s addictive. A research says that a secret phone chat can give us a dopamine rush. Second, subconsciously we don’t like to do nothing. Every second counts. As technology is advancing we are becoming more and more impatient. Third, bitchy gossip may be rude, but harmless chit-chat about a situation or a person can boost the levels of feel good hormones.

Finally, a word of caution. Don’t get paranoid if you see me texting when I’m with you sipping a drink. For I could be texting my husband to tell him where the house keys are. Or I could be tweeting a thank you reply on social media. You do realize that I don’t have time to spare, right? And that we are a generation that believes in instant gratification. 
So if I’m not texting someone about you, the act could be called 'semi-sidebarring'?  Wonder what dictionary has to say about that. 
Ah, the perils of ghastly tech-tyranny!

Image Courtesy Here


  1. I prefer taking about people who have left the room. And I always make sure I’m the last one to leave.

    Yet to try sidebarring but sign language- plenty of times.

  2. Side barring is like bitching and gossiping with your friend about someone else, definitely feels good but is it right always, well the jury is still out on that!

  3. Haha, now I know the term for an act I have been practicing for some time now! Guilty me! Of course sometimes it is a genuine semi-sidebarring but still totally not what old rules of public decorum require! That said, do people really care about it? Doubtful, with each busy with their own toy at any public gathering for whatever reasons.

  4. When the speakers bore you there is nothing wrong in engaging in sidebarring. In stead of impatiently coping with the situation, it allows you to have a little fun.

  5. Thanks for introducing me to this term. Plead Guilty! But not sure if I have side barred per se, but one thing is for sure that I have surely flipped through my phone, checking mails, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter etc.

  6. Monks read blogs. Especially old monks.

  7. haha is there anyone who hasn't done it during an event facing, I, Me, Myself time or boring stuffs? I used to do that before, except never knew it's called side barring. Thanks, Alka.

  8. This brought a cheer in the midst of a whirlwind trip, Alka😃

  9. he he he he :) I have done that and yeah I do find it annoying when i am talking and others are txting.. but thats the way these day. As I said I have done it too.. Modern Days ways...

    Happy new year to you and family :)


  10. You are right about the childish delight and thrill it can give .... poor Salman....big boss somehow gets connected to a lot of discussions on this planet :D

  11. This is a new term for me.Never done that.