Smartphones are powerful, consistently impressive, pieces of technology. Not a day goes by that we don't do something on their amazing screens that was inconceivable only a few years ago. But they're also really, really great props for avoiding uncomfortable situations. Here are my top six scenarios where my phone functions as a comfort object.
The best thing about using your phone to avoid awkward social interaction is that you don't even have to have it charged up. It's just a thing that you pretend to look at and do things on that are more important that anything in your physical surroundings. If you just look at it and move your finger around on the screen, everything's fine, it builds a barrier that keeps bad things away. Without further ado, here are six of my favorite scenarios for using a smartphone to make everything okay.
6. Every time I'm on public transportation
Public transportation is one of those necessary evils we're all plagued with throughout our lives. Whether you're staring blankly into space for a few minutes before realizing you've actually been staring directly at a very uncomfortable stranger the whole time, someone else is doing this to you, or your eyes just have no idea where to look so keep darting to and from different people, public transportation is a gladiatorial arena for awkward social interaction.
Before smartphones, we had newspapers and books, but smartphones are the ultimate way to occupy yourself on public transportation. Not only is your phone always to hand, like a knight's trusty sword, but you can merrily tap and scroll away for as long as it takes to breathe the sweet air of liberation on the far side of the automatic doors.
5. When having to change direction in the street
When I realize I've been walking in the wrong direction, there's no way to turn around without using my phone as a prop. Otherwise, everyone would know I've been walking the wrong way. By pulling out my phone, consulting the screen for a moment and pretending I have just come across a really important piece of information, I can turn around and no one will even notice how weird what I've just done is.
4. In lifts
Lifts are tightly sealed Pandora's boxes of social awkwardness. Walk into a lift with other people and the air itself is replaced with large particles of anxiety that are bad for your skin. The only way to ease the pain is through a magical tool known as a smartphone. Pull it out and pretend to check your email and it's like everything is totally fine and the atmosphere inside the box of humans is completely relaxed. Try this trick next time you're in a lift.
3. If I ever see a Facebook friend walking down the street
Yes, we spoke in a bar once, and I know your name. In fact, I know where you went to school, who you're dating, what you had for dinner last night, and why you're upset over the last episode of Game of Thrones. Fortunately, by producing my smartphone from my pocket a moment before you see me, I don't have to have an awkward conversation with you. Just keep tapping the screen – a few more steps – and breath.
2. When I need to leave a shop without talking to sales assistants
If you enter a shop, only to realize that it's somehow the wrong shop, or everything is way too expensive, before any sales assistants descend upon you, let loose your phone from your pocket. This way, instead of having to pretend you didn't hear them, or fumbling for excuses, or, worst of all, pretending that you weren't just about to leave, you can appear as though something very important is happening somewhere and you have to leave in order to address said important thing.
1. When waiting for someone in a public space
Standing in a public space doing nothing is practically the strangest thing anyone can do. To show people you're not insane, you can use a smartphone. By doing things on your smartphone, you make it clear to those nearby that not only are you a normal person with a phone but you also have things to do that aren't standing doing nothing in a public space.
For bonus points, when the person you're waiting for finally arrives, make them wait a couple of moments while you pretend to finish up something really important on your smartphone before secreting it into your pocket and cordially greeting them in a relaxed fashion.
When do you use your phone to avoid social interaction? Let me know in the comments.