Awkward: 13% Use Cell Phones to Avoid Human Contact

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Raise your hand if you’re guilty! Or, you know, just avoid direct eye contact and continue to poke down at your iPhone instead.

In a new report from the Pew Research Center titled Americans and Their Cell Phones, you have your usual fare about how cell phone penetration is on the rise, people are sending more photos and videos, yadda yadda yadda, with one interesting tidbit: 13% of Americans apparently use their devices to avoid “unwanted personal interactions,” or rather, pretend to use their phones to dodge having to talk to people in real life.

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I don’t know about you, but doesn’t 13% seem kind of… low?

Here at TIME at least, it seems like four out of every five people in any given elevator can’t go a floor without pulling out their BlackBerry (you can’t get reception inside of the elevator, either, I might add).

Not that it’s a bad thing! You can only have so many stunted conversations about the weather, and if I have to hear another joke about a crowded elevator running “local” my eyeballs might roll so hard they’ll invert toward the back of my skull.

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Maybe cell phones aren’t so much a social crutch as they are a tool for keeping us connected with the people we’d really like to be connected with! Or maybe we just love our devices so much that we’d rather swipe at their little icons than, you know, have sex!

Over at The Atlantic they’re trying to float a name for this awkward but necessary practice (“dodge dialing”? “phaking”?).

Personally, I think it depends on the situation. At a bar, for instance, “dodge dialing” is fine. In an elevator? I’d prefer we call it “protocol.”

[via Healthland]

Chris Gayomali is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @chrigz, on Facebook, or on Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.