Reports have been flooding in that after a two- to three-second long lull in conversation with people she didn’t know very well, sophomore Anita Patel whipped her smartphone out of her pocket and scrutinized it with exaggerated care, immediately reassuring all parries present that the situation was not really awkward at all, and that the silence was simply due to everyone’s need to check important things on their smartphones.
“It was great,” said fellow sophomore Ryan Grant, who was present for the narrowly averted crisis. “Really quick thinking. If she hadn’t pulled out her iPhone like that and made a big show of pointedly scrolling up and down the screen, we might have had to face a couple more seconds of silence and begin to question our own abilities as conversationalists. As it was, as soon as the smartphone came out it became completely obvious to all of us that the lack of talking was simply because we all had important things to do on our smartphones that we just remembered. Suddenly, we weren’t people with nothing to say- we were interesting people with busy lives, texts that need to be answered and Words With Friends challenges that must be met.”
Experts estimate that Patel’s smartphone maneuver—and her peers following suit—saved the group from a potentially disastrous attempt to move beyond small talk and reignite the flagging conversation, and allowed them to sit in silence with impunity for the next ten minutes.
At press time, other instances of Patel using her smartphone to save dying conversations have surfaced, including on the Caltrain, at the dinner table with relatives, and when she and a few classmates arrive too early for section.