First, you could call. Then, you could email back and forth via Blackberry or other fresh produce. Next, you could drop calls. After that, it became possible to send and receive texts. And now, using the iMessage app on an Apple or other fresh produce, you can watch an indicator telling you when people are typing a reply. Soon, our phones will advance to the point where they can text each other without any input from us, allowing us to socialize with upwards of a hundred people all while doing homework or sleeping.
It’s no secret that teens spend a lot of time texting each other. But it’s also no secret that half the time we appear to be texting, we’re simply looking at our phones to avoid interacting with people around us, or avoid looking alone and uncool. And in that way, cell phones have also harmed our communication with each other.
Why fake texting someone? Well, we’re teens. We are undergoing more awkward hormonal transformations at any one moment than the entire Kardashian family combined. Any number of bad things could happen if we looked up. We could open our mouths and grunt embarrassingly at the last second as someone passes by, forgetting how to use our tongue and making a sound not far different from a cow’s moo. We could nod to someone, but if we time it badly and they aren’t making eye contact, it’ll just look like an invisible man punched us in the forehead. We could even wave, but since we’re not used to the length of our arms, there’s always a risk we could poke an eye out.
Pretending to text, however, comes with its own problems. For example, to fully mimic texting, you probably open your message app and start typing randomly. Which is no big deal, of course, until you accidentally press “send” out of habit, leading to conversations that won’t end well:
You: a;sdklewe9t4nbj apd-e-tjqej cjdpfaisjdf
Friend you accidentally texted: ??
You: Sorry. I sent that to the wrong person
Friend: Oh, cuz that message makes sense if I know what you’re talking about.
You: It was also an autocorrect.
Friend: Sure, sure, happens all the time when I type “a:dkdlwwe94tnJ adew-wer-efioj apoidf” and my stupid phone corrects it to that
You: It was also in a different language.
Friend: Cuz lots of languages intersperse Arabic digits in their words.
You: It was also in code. It was also censored by the NSA. It was also intercepted by aliens. Then the NSA censored it again. And then for some reason it ended up getting sent to you when I meant to send it to autocorrect.
You: *to a different friend, not send it to autocorrect. But it was also an autocorrect. To a different language.
Friend: You should see a head doctor.
Additionally, this means you have to get out your phone, even if your hands are already full of books, a lunch, or a sports bag. Plus, if you pull out your phone every time you pass someone you don’t know, you’ll drain the battery faster than you can say, “Dude, I do that all the time and have no battery problems.”
Thankfully, there’s a better way to look cool and nonchalant when you’re standing or walking all alone. In fact, there are three.
Tie Those Shoes
This is first on the list for a reason; it has so many benefits over staring at your phone. First of all, it allows you to get low, meaning that if you do look up, you’ll only have to make eye contact with people’s knees, which are usually less judgmental than people’s eyes.
Secondly, it lets you show off your shoe tying skills. It proves to the world that mommy doesn’t tie your shoes. No, you’re a big boy. (If you really want to show off, you can also quietly sing the alphabet at the same time.)
Finally, it also draws attention to your shoes. And, if you’re truly a teen, your shoes are neon, casual, or casually neon. This proves how laid back you are, and, if you’re lucky enough to have exceptionally neon shoes, can also blind any passing people so there’s no risk of them seeing your face when you get up.
The only thing you have to watch out for is those times when your shoes don’t have laces, although pretending to tie laceless shoes is probably no more embarrassing than pretending to text using a wallet.
Push Those Cuticles
If you’ve ever received nail clippers, a Swiss army knife, or some other multi-tool, a popular feature is the “cuticle pusher.” Now, I have absolutely no idea what a cuticle pusher is. Looking it up on the scholarly database called Yahoo Answers, I learned “it’s for exactly what the name says.” That wasn’t helpful. I don’t know what cuticles are, and I can’t imagine why you would want to push them around.
If I had to guess, “cuticle” is probably just a name for a slow-moving beetle (it rhymes), and you’re supposed to push them along to help them on their way. I don’t know how that correlates to nail clippers, but then again, you can also buy healthy salads packaged with dressing more caloric-ally dense than a chunk of limestone, so maybe things aren’t always marketed as well as they could be.
The point is, if you have a cuticle pusher, and you know what, where, or who cuticles are, and also when, how, or why to push them, you should totally make use of this skill. Not only does it give you a reason to avoid looking at anyone around you, but it also shows off how brilliantly intelligent you are, that you know the proper use for a cuticle pusher.
Drink That Liquid
Perhaps the second-most common way of avoiding any human contact is to use a drink. Most high school students get a full, restful twelve hours of sleep, total, every two to three days, so it’s not uncommon to see people sleepily sipping a thermos of coffee or tea. The best part is, if you time it right, you can sip just as someone passes next to you, giving you an excuse to tilt your head back and look up at the ceiling.
But while this may be a common and easy technique, it comes with a few potential issues. For example, if your drink is still burning hot when someone walks by, you may have to spit it out all over your shirt. If you’re really slick, you can do that again once or twice and try to start a trend—or at least make it look like you meant to ruin your outfit, because that’s how much swag you’ve got and how YOLO you are—but most people won’t think of that in time.
Furthermore, you’ll eventually finish your drink, and while nobody sauntering by will notice a fake sip, if you’re standing around in a crowd, eventually people will wonder how you’ve taken 3,238 consecutive sips from a twenty-ounce cup.
While you might prefer to use your phone as an excuse to avoid appearing alone or awkward, it isn’t always the best option. But even tying shoes, pushing cuticles, or drinking coffee aren’t the best options, either.
Sure, it might seem better to try and avoid awkward human contact at the time, but you’ll enjoy life more if you simply look up with a smile and greet those around you, even with only a moo. Heck, maybe you can ask the next person you see if they know what a cuticle is.
If you’ve already figured out that it’s more fun to meet new people than fake texting, perhaps you’ll be more interested in The Most Effective SAT Study Plan, published this time last year. Because you can’t spell fun without “S,” “A,” and “T.”