Do You Pretend to Talk on Your Cellphone to Avoid Other People?

A new study about cellphone usage reveals some thoroughly unsurprising data: 51 percent of cellphone owners have used their phone at least once to "get information they needed right away," 42 percent used their phone for entertainment when they were bored, 10 percent had difficulty entering a lot of text on their phone. While these statistics would probably only be surprising to, say, a time traveler sent from the Middle Ages, or possibly an easily startled Chihuahua, the study did unearth one truly shocking piece of data.

It turns out that 13 percent of cell owners have pretended to be using their phone in order to avoid interacting with the people around them. I KNOW, RIGHT? My mind is blown.

I would have guessed more like 100 percent for SURE.


The folks at Gizmodo are equally stunned, although they seem to believe most people routinely pretend to talk on their phone. I myself am neither a good actress nor a lively phone conversationalist even if I'm only talking to myself -- plus I'm paranoid by nature and would totally assume someone would notice the absence of another caller, should I find myself faking an important two-way call.

All I'm saying is that I'm pretty sure if I tried to carry out one part of a nonexistent conversation, I would end up sounding about as believable as Keanu Reeves' accent in Dracula.

I do, however, pretend to text message all the damn time. Any situation that requires me to stand around awkwardly in front of other people -- I'm thinking specifically of the playground when I'm in the midst of a throng of unapproachable mom-groups who have apparently been BFFs since first grade -- is the perfect opportunity for my patented routine of Pulling Out My Phone, Frowning Thoughtfully at Its Contents, and Stabbing Random Buttons With My Finger.

Oooh, I thought of another one: You know when you're walking down a seemingly endless hallway and you see someone you sort of know at the other end who's heading your direction, and after you flash a friendly smile, you have no idea how to behave? Like, it's way too early to actually say, "Hey, howzit," so WTF are you supposed to do, just stare dreamily into their eyes for the entire length of time it takes you to get close enough for a quick hello? Or worse, dart your gaze around nervously as though it's perfectly normal to appear to be in the throes of a facial seizure?

Hell no, that's when you pull out your PHONE. In fact, I have a whole thing where I pretend to be a little startled -- as if by the buzz of an incoming text message -- fish out the phone, and peer distractedly at the screen, readying myself for the exact right moment when I look up and greet my fellow hallway traveler as we pass each other.

Fake texting is also perfect for eating dinner solo in a restaurant (actually, I think this is what Twitter was built for), standing around at a social gathering while you wait for someone you know to show up, and any time you notice that some creepy guy with a neckbeard is thinking about making a move.

Sure, you could tell me that these social crutches are delving more than a little into the territory of pathological behavior, and that I'm deliberately closing myself off to potentially rewarding interactions, or you could even point out the inherent irony in pretending to use a communication tool in order to avoid actual communication. To that I would say, YES, YOU ARE CORRECT ON ALL COUNTS. I'd explain myself, but, ahh ... I've got this super important text here I need to take care of.

Have you ever used your phone to avoid interacting with people?

Image via Wonderlane/Flickr

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