Twentysomethings are pretending to text just to avoid you

A recent study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project about cell-phone use in adults ages eighteen to twenty found mostly unsurprising results: for instance, did you know that young people use their phones as entertainment devices? And that they sometimes need to turn off their phones in order to separate from the electronic hive mind? It's true! But if you really want proof that our technology is turning us into mental hermits with no connection to the rest of humanity, this is the result for you:

And most surprisingly of all, 30% of adults 18-29 have pretended to be on the phone in order to avoid human interaction, the report says.

How is this surprising? Doesn't everyone do this all the time in awkward social situations? (Read: most of them.) As someone who loathes and fears other people in great measure, I assure you that this move is one of the classics. (It is so much easier than bleeding from your eyes.) So remember: the next time it seems like that person you're approaching at a party is faking a phone conversation or tapping out a text the length of Anna Karenina, it's only because my peers and I are socially maladjusted.

Commentarium (16 Comments)

Aug 16 11 - 12:07pm
Gazbo

While I am sympathetic to your distress, I don't exactly understand why you go to parties to avoid people. What is the payoff - watching Elaine dance badly?

Aug 16 11 - 12:33pm
Payoff is...

Free drinks and booty.

Aug 16 11 - 12:47pm
So True

My favourite is the old "Fake phone conversation that lasts exactly as long as it takes to walk past the Greenpeace people on the sidewalk" trick.

Aug 16 11 - 2:03pm
NuckingFuts

I just flat out ignore them and walk right past them without even acknowldeging them, stone cold style!

Aug 17 11 - 2:55am
Pauper For Peace

Here's the easy way to deal with those GP folks, simply say "so I look like your target demographic, do I? Sorry, appearances are deceiving. Have a nice day."

Aug 16 11 - 1:37pm
Show

Different age, same gag.

Just that back in the day people would look at their watches or fiddle with some papers.

Aug 16 11 - 2:05pm
NuckingFuts

"How is this surprising? Doesn't everyone do this all the time in awkward social situations. (Read: most of them.) As someone who loathes and fears other people in great measure, I assure you that this move is one of the classics. (It is so much easier than bleeding from your eyes.) So remember: the next time it seems like that person you're approaching at a party is faking a phone conversation or tapping out a text the length of Anna Karenina, it's only because my peers and I are socially maladjusted." Well, at least you can admit you're all a bunch of assholes!

Aug 16 11 - 2:38pm
Lego

I, personally, am guilty of this ( and I don't feel bad!). Not at parties though... mostly on the bus and street when there are creepers following me/trying to chat with me.

Aug 16 11 - 3:01pm
bp

I'm guilty of this. But mostly I pretend to be checking my phone at stop signs when I'm on the bike and running the dog next to me, so cars won't try to wave me by while I wait for them to go. My dog is trained not to cross streets in front of running cars. It's very convenient because otherwise we have to get into that awkward, "You go. No, you go. No, really, you go," waving contest.

Aug 16 11 - 3:02pm
src

I've done this on the subway a couple times when someone directly across from me was trying to engage me, even following me through the car when I changed seats. Where else am I going to look to avoid eye contact?

Aug 16 11 - 5:59pm
Secret Character

Pretend like you're on a phone call. On the subway. Show them you take your pretending very seriously.

Aug 17 11 - 3:01am
Mike Litorus

In this situation, it pays to know some obscure foreign language (Finnish/Swedish, etc.)phrases, so when some stranger tries to engage you so, respond loudly to them with such a phrase. The combination of unexpected amplification plus the what-the-hell-language-was-that factor ought to put them right beck into their minding-my-own-business place. If they persist, use the broken record technique (but using alternating phrases).

Aug 16 11 - 6:34pm
profrobert

@src: How about those fascinating Dr. Zizmore ads?

Aug 17 11 - 12:56am
Jfs$2)

I usually pretend to talk on my cell phone when I'm outside drinking coffee and I can see a panhandler approaching to ask me for money. I feel bad saying no, but I don't want to give money away either to someone who might use it for drugs (I donate to charity).

Aug 17 11 - 3:35pm
TwiddlerOnTheHoof

On a side note, consuder buying your cranky, neighbourhood hobo a Bluetooth hands-free headset. That anti-social stigma of yelling at no one in particular will go when folks think he's chastising his broker for a bad deal.