Is your smartphone helping you be rude?

The New York Times suggests that our smartphones are making it easier for us to bail on social engagements and turning us into "ill-mannered flakes." But weren't we always?

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read
"I'm so sorry I can't make it. I've been kidnapped by toys." Josh Miller/CNET

Whenever a new modern thesis comes along -- especially one with technology at its heart -- I tend to brace myself.

We already know that technology has turned us into superficial, lazy worms who believe that our whole lives can be enacted through fingers and screens. Now along comes The New York Times to reveal that our smartphones have turned us into "ill-mannered flakes."

How has this occurred? Well, our little iPhones and Galaxy S3s offer us the perfect means to get out of social engagements.

They make it easier for us to text "Sorry, my bunion has grown an inch. I can't walk," hit send, and then waddle along to the nearest bar to gawk at a large television or a luscious barperson.

As evidence, the Times offers celebrated personalities such as Bravo TV's lovable Andy Cohen offering, through thinly veiled tears: "Texting is lazy, and it encourages and promotes flakiness. You're not treating anything with any weight, and it turns us all into 14-year-olds. We're all 14-year-olds in suits and high heels."

Oh, Andy. It is not our handy phones that have turned us into 14-year-olds. We have always been 14-year-olds.

Smartphones merely allow us to more quickly reveal ourselves for who we truly are: miserably selfish beings, desperate for a fix of social approbation at least 20 times a day.

Isn't it better to cancel -- even at the last minute -- rather than turn up, fake it, and try to make some desperate excuse ("I'm crossing the Atlantic in a canoe tomorrow. Need to get some sleep.") in order to leave early?

Doesn't it make things a little more palatable for the receiver not to have to look into their friend's lying eyes, contenting themselves instead with their lying texts?

The Times offers that people are so arrogant that they assume everyone is always glued to their smartphones, so a message sent will be immediately read.

Ah, but so much of the Times' information is centered around New York, a place where self-centeredness is so sacred that those who don't have it are regarded as mentally challenged -- or, worse, Midwesterners.

Who would not smile, or even marvel, at the words of fashion designer Cynthia Rowley, who charmingly told the Times that her phone has happily widened her circle of friends "without having to put in the face time"?

We should rejoice that our smartphones are liberating us. They are allowing us to be our true selves, rather than the formulaic, locked-away personalities that populated the 1950s and made shrinks a fortune.

We ought to be grateful that our imperfections are out there now for all to see. That way, we can be loved for who we truly are. Or not.

Friend me, Cynthia.