13% of People Pretend to Use Cell Phones to Avoid Other People

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Thank your lucky stars for the Pew Internet and American Life Project. They come out with all kinds of research about the digital divide, how mainstream Americans use the Web, and all kinds of other stuff. But today, they shed light on a truly important phenomenon:

Cell phones can help prevent unwanted personal interactions - 13% of cell owners pretended to be using their phone in order to avoid interacting with the people around them.

If you're of a certain age and position relative to a metro area, you have almost undoubtedly engaged in this practice. And now that Pew has identified it as a national-level behavior, we need to name it. Sarah Rich suggests "dodge dialing." Derek Thompson coined "the cell phone side step." And Becca Rosen likes "phaking." You got a better name? Something's gotta catch on.

Via @lrainey.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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