Back in the day (the 80s), if you came across a group of teenagers, the chances are that they were standing around, sharing their cigarettes, and engaging in some form of social interaction. It may not have been for everyone's taste to walk through a tobacco smoke plume, but hey ho, those lads and girls were interacting - even it it was also causing early damage to their developing lungs.
Last night, while waiting outside a local supermarket (yes, we do have a couple in Cornwall), I saw a group of lads, who, perhaps 30 years ago would have been smoking No.6 cigarettes and trying to make cool advances to passing girls, whereas now, they were all glued to their phones - no physical interaction at all - just a group of auto-bots pressing screens.
Shockingly, at one stage, one put his phone in his pocket, then the next did the same, but phew, great relief swept over them as they had to instantly check them again as the next person checked theirs.
In the same way as offering their pal a cigarette, so the habit of phone usage seems to entice each other into the same behaviour. I have to admit, I sat there in the car, resisting the urge to check my own phone and join in with their addictive behaviour. See if you can notice yourself doing that next time the person next to you does it.
The great thing with all this of course, is that they are not smoking, not filling their lungs with toxins, and not causing untold long term physical damage. What we do not know however, is what the long term effects will be on their social skills, how the technological urge will rewire their brains, and the long term physical impact on their posture by holding the 'texting pose'.
So which will eventually be worse for them - texting or smoking? Who knows?
Sometimes it's great to watch, reflect and resist the urge to join in, give it a go next time you have the chance.