Male Call: Busted!


Click to read more about James Roberts.

 By James Roberts

A couple of weeks ago I was hanging with my peeps at the Kona Grill when a question came up about the Toby Keith’s next door. I pulled out my device and started looking up the info. A neighboring peepette called shenanigans on me for being “one of those people who can’t put their smart phones down in a social group.”

Well, she was quite wrong.

It wasn’t a smart phone…it was my iTouch. So there!

But she did have me dead to rights on something I’ve noted with a combination of anguish and amusement over the past few years: People just cannot put down their devices in social situations. You in particular.

Some of it is about satisfying curiosity about the topic of conversation. In a way, the malefactors are still engaged in the social group; they’re just fact-checking. Some of it is about moms checking on young’uns. Presumably, some of it is about keeping track of en route fellow peeps. In fact, my incessant-phone-checking students sometimes call out during roll call, “Oh, so and so got caught in traffic; she’s on her way.”

We’ve all seen the ironic pictures on Facebook of teens in a group, busy texting or Snapchatting and seemingly ignoring their dates or mates.

Somehow, I had become one of them.

I’ve been developing a theory ─ and like most of my lovely theories, it tends to get shot down regularly ─ but I’m feeling good about this one so give it a chance.

Here goes: Women tend to huddle over their smart devices in social groups more than men, particularly when the male-female ratios are against them. That is, when the women at a social gathering outnumber the men, the ladies “give up,” that is, ignore the men and retreat to their phones…not to make calls so much as to commune, exchange numbers, bond and generally engage in empathetic behavior with nearby galpals. It becomes, in effect, a Saturday morning Wildflower catch-up ─ sharing photos of grandkids, pets, favorite spas and bookies.

No…just kidding about that last one.

Men, on the other hand, seem to be more singular and private in their surreptitious device-diving. Maybe they’re checking sports scores or just pretending to have friends on the way so they don’t look like losers. Maybe they don’t like sitting alone with their thoughts. But they usually don’t re-form into a private men’s group.

Check the smart phone scene next time you’re out and about. Be an urban anthropologist with me. Text me with your findings. But take care of that bookie matter first.

Need a guy’s perspective? Jot a note to Male Call at or check out the Male Call archives at



  1. In the meantime, I had to bust someone else at a winetasting.

  2. charhartman says:

    I’m sure she had perfectly good explanation and did not deserve your assumption of her character. You must realize that some of your above characterizations are interchangeable between sexes. Yes?

  3. She had an excellent explanation. She had dismissed her current circle of admirers and was awaiting the next round. But you’re exactly right, the characterizations are interchangeable…except when I simply make them up.

    • charhartman says:

      I would venture to guess that your admirer theory is not even close to being true. Perhaps she is inherently shy and does not do well in approaching strangers to engage in small talk. Perhaps she sees small talk as exhausting. Maybe she is inordinately afraid of rejection or maybe she was feeling rejected by a previous so called “admirer”. If only she had ordered one more glass of wine, shook off her insecurities and put her phone away….

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