What I Hated the Least Today 128/365: Smiling in Your Lap

Phubbing people
Phubbing people

Blogging about first-world-problems (such as when you’re unable to unshuffle your phone playlist, which brings you to the brink of suicide) and about yoga bricks brought to my mind by free association memories of the beginnings of technology for me.

How do bricks come in? It was in the late 1990s and my entrepreneurial father purchased what was probably the first cell phone on local market. This is Eastern Europe, so if you’re in the Western world, you were likely experiencing this stage of development about a decade earlier.

My father’s mobile phone wasn’t very mobile as its battery lasted for about one call. The phone had the design, size and weight of a brick (with an antenna), hence I affectionately called it The Brick. (This is how the brick comes in.) Among its good qualities was its durability—I once dropped it on stone steps and, besides the standby call being interrupted, nothing at all happened. Everyone knows what happens when you drop an iPhone.

Phones came in also when I was teaching class the other day and a student delivered a compulsory presentation on the topic of her choice—which was phubbing, defined as “the habit of snubbing someone in favour of a mobile phone”. I realised neither that this cute quirk had a name nor that it was considered other than standard behaviour. Of course, I’m socially stunted, so I don’t count.

After the presentation and some obligatory teaching, I announced a break. While the students clearly heard me, they didn’t stir and just lifted their phones from their laps, where they inefficiently hide them during class, up to their chests and proceeded to fiddle with them while smiling idiotically. Naturally, I only noticed this mass behaviour when I happened to glance up from my own phone at which I was smiling idiotically.

This cheered me up strangely—I mean, at least we have something to smile about, right?


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Mara Eastern

I'm a sardonic blogger, snapper, scribbler and rhymer; a virtual space invader who indulges in cheerful negativism, morbid self-deprecation and bleak humour.

27 thoughts on “What I Hated the Least Today 128/365: Smiling in Your Lap”

  1. Most teachers have this on going battle with phones in class. I think its a losing battle. I’ve even seen a kid do a class presentation from his phone rather than from printed sheets. I remember when I was at school in Japan and I made mention of my artist son within seconds there were kids holding up their phones asking me if this was him. Its another world isn’t it. I think smiling idiotically is a universal trait when looking at your phone.


    1. I gave up the battle with phones in class. I let students use them (and I admit I sometimes use mine in class too, when I assign some work and wait for the students to complete it). When it gets too much, I just call the student to answer something, so that s/he leaves the phone be for a minute.

      I never realised it but as I faced my class, all of the students on their phones, I noticed that people do smile somewhat idiotically when they’re chatting or whatever they’re doing on their phones. I also smile idiotically, of course, I caught myself doing that. At least now I know.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. 1986 was the first time I met a friend who owned a mobile phone. It was huge — much bigger than a brick — he carried it in a bag with shoulder strap, on top of it was an old-fashioned receiver. Ten years later, I was the proud owner of one, myself. Mine was brick-sized, and about the same weight. Blue, Ericsson.

    We can’t fight progress, and it’s great that we at least have something to smile about, even though I feel a little sheepish at times 😀


    1. I’m chuckling at the mental image of a backpack-sized mobile phone 😀 I never had the brick, I had the next, somewhat smaller generation phone. Several of them in succession (I don’t remember what I did to them that I had several). One of them was a yellow and black Ericsson which looked like a child’s toy. It has this tiny display of two lines max…


      1. I do remember the yellow and black one.
        All the displays were grey. Then I got a Nokia, that had BLUE display! Oh joy! I was excited. Didn’t take much to amuse me back then, I guess. But … it doesn’t now, either. 🙂


        1. A happy trip down the memory lane 😀 I had some Nokias too and they were the best phones I had. Unbreakable and unfuckwithable. I was so excited when I get my first Nokia with a colour display. I would still have had it, had I not exchanged it for a smartphone.


  3. Phubbing! I didn’t know there was a word for that. When my phone was just a phone I never switched it on and kept it in the car glove box for breakdown emergencies. Since I moved to America and upgraded to a smartphone, I’ve suddenly started using the phone because it’s this mini computer in my pocket. I’m still pretty disciplined with it but I can see the allure.


    1. I didn’t know phubbing either, so I was pleased that my students actually teach me something 🙂 I was quite late to get a smartphone, and I think I’m lost, I fell for it. It’s a nice way to spend the time that you can’t really use for anything useful, such as the commuting time.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The old brick phones were solid. My hb forgot his on the top of his car and drove off. When he realised, he went back to look for it, found it taped it together. It continued to work for years.


    1. That was the great feature of old things – they were unbreakable. I have excellent memories of Nokia phones, which never malfunctioned and could withstand some tossing around. A shame Nokia doesn’t do Android smartphones but only Windows ones. That clearly rules it out for me, I’m not such a masochist.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I still don’t have a smart phone. I’m like Laura used to be. I have a phone that’s just a phone and it’s turned off until I need to use it, which is practically never. Part of me would like to get a smart phone just so that I can have an Instagram account, but that’s just silly isn’t it? Overall, I’m content with not having one simply because I feel an overwhelming sense of superiority when I’m the only one in a room who’s not “phubbing”. 🙂 If I had a smart phone, I know darn well I’d be just like everyone else.


    1. It’s rare thing not to have a smartphone, hold on to it and feel superior about it by all means! Because you are 🙂 The fact that Instagram is only for mobile is annoying. I quite enjoy Instagram, I love applying madcap filters on bad pics.


      1. Annoying is right! I have an android tablet and I can’t even get the Instagram app for that because the device doesn’t have a camera. 😦 I use PicMonkey for filtering my bad pics. 🙂


        1. There are ways to browse, like and comment on Instagram from desktop, but I don’t think there is a way to actually post from desktop. It’s a strange limitation. I used the free version of PicMonkey, but I found that its best features were paid, so I stopped using it 😦


          1. I have the paid version of PicMonkey. I use it for “branding” pretty frequently.

            I haven’t figured out how to browse or comment on Instagram from my desktop. I can see links people share, but I can’t interact or browse because I don’t have an account. So annoying! I think there are third party apps that allow you to post from a desktop if you already have an account.


          2. Oh I see, then of course PicMonkey is nice when you can access all its features! No, without an Instagram account, you can’t really do anything on it, mobile or desktop. But it’s not really something that you should lose your sleep over…

            Liked by 1 person

    1. No worries, I only realised recently what I’m actually doing when I’m on the phone and how it looks like to an uninvolved observer, on the other hand, I realised that I smile – which is better than frowning, isn’t it? 😉


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