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Smartphones can fix awkward moments

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From the moment I pulled my chair up to a crowded table in a Fargo restaurant, where I was surrounded by many of my good college friends, I knew I had a problem: It was too darn loud to hold a decent conversation.

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Our group was sitting right in front of the entrance, where there was a constant flow of pedestrians streaming in. In a feeble attempt to overpower the sound of music blaring from dozens of speakers, the old-fashioned western swing doors slapping back into place every three seconds at the entrance and wild cheers from sports fans glued to nearly five different TV screens, my friends and I shouted toward one another. But it was no use.

It didn't take me long to realize my friends couldn't hear me and I couldn't hear them. So what did I do?

I whipped out my smartphone.

Don't get me wrong; I wanted nothing more than to catch up with every person at that table. They're like family, after all. But sitting quietly and doing nothing in the presence of constant noise wasn't in the cards.

As I waited in hopes the noise would subside, I decided to respond to a few texts I had recently received. My phone was only out for a few seconds, and when I put it back in my pocket and looked up, I noticed that nearly all my friends had the same idea. The table was lit up with smartphones.

Eventually, the noise got to be too much and our group decided to try another place where we could all talk. But I can't shake the reality that there was a short window when nearly all of us were looking at a handheld screen.

I'll come out and say it: My smartphone is the bomb. It helps me set appointments, check the weather and find my way on the road. But it has become a social mechanism as well. It helps me fill the void during the day's awkward moments.

When I'm quietly sitting in the dentist's waiting room, where another patron has beat me to the TV remote, I pull out my smartphone to check emails. As I wait in line while someone ponders what to order at Subway, I use the device to update my Facebook status. And while employees work to fix the cash register when I'm in line at my favorite pizza place, I peek at the screen as Internet Movie Database tells me the name of the actor I've been blanking on all week.

A year ago, I would have said I was the type of person who would never get a smartphone. I didn't think I would ever need one.

Now, sadly, I don't know how I could survive without it.

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