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Fake Texting

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"I think I am... getting a text message. Bloop! Ah, there it is."
Cap. Raymond Holt, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
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What are our characters to do when they want to look busy, avoid small talk, hide their embarrassment, back out of an uncomfortable situation, or create a minor distraction? Why, they should play with their cell phone and pretend to be texting. Cell phones and smartphones are ideal props. Always ready in our pockets or purses and no one can see what you're actually doing. Fiddling with your phone like checking social media or using applications can achieve similar results.

Perhaps the character has No Social Skills. They're extremely socially awkward and would rather pretend to be doing something else than talk to another human being. Perhaps the character Hates Small Talk: Introverts usually don't enjoy talking about unimportant stuff and will find whatever excuse not to engage in discussions with no real depth. Perhaps they just don't want to bother/be bothered and their jerk side is showing. Perhaps they only do it to create a distraction and to appear innocent if they do something suspicious.

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All variants of Phoney Call are related, but pretending to be talking to someone else requires better acting skills than writing some non-sense text or actually checking your social accounts or apps.


Examples:

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    Fan Works 
  • In the Miraculous Ladybug fic "Tender Words", Gabriel Agreste is fake texting when Adrien is injured in an akuma attack.
    Gabriel took out his phone and started typing something away... She peered over and saw his hair was disheveled and his phone screen was open. All he had typed was 'asdfasdfasdfasdf' as a way to appear busy. To say the least, Gabriel Agreste was a mess.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine:
    • Boyle gets super strong pain meds, gets super relaxed and super honest. So he admits he does fake texting.
      Gina: You get all relaxed and you have no filter and you just start dropping truth bombs on everyone.
      Holt: Oh, that explains the elevator.
      [flashback to the elevator]
      Boyle: [to his boss] I'm worried you don't find me interesting. I'm gonna pretend someone texted me. [stares to his phone]
    • Holt pretends he got a text when he wants to back out from an uncomfortable conversation with Jeffords and his wife.
      Holt: I think I am... Getting a text message. Bloop.
    • In "The Party", the detectives are invited to Captain Holt's birthday party. Terry wants to keep them in line and tries to enforce good behaviour. The first thing he says is "no staring at your phones".
  • Community: Jeff is an aloof cool guy who is frequently seen texting throughout the first three seasons. When he finally encounters his Disappeared Dad in the fourth, he reveals that there was no one on the other end and has been texting nobody. Mentioned in his epic rant to his father who wants to take credit for how cool and awesome Jeff turned out.
    Jeff: So let me tell you how I turned out just so you're crystal clear on your impact. I am not well-adjusted. More often than not, I am barely keeping it together. I'm constantly texting, and there's no one at the other end. I'm just a grown man who can't even look his own friends in the eye for too long because I'm afraid that they'll see that I am broken.
  • In the episode "That Text was not Meant for Josh" of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, in song "Textmergency", Rebecca pretends to be texting when she wants to get inside Josh's building. The text appears as Pop-Up Texting: "I am fake texting so I look like I'm waiting for my friend."
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    Music 
  • Bo Burnham: "Left Brain, Right Brain" features Bo seeing a girl nearby. The Left Brain responds to this by telling Bo to "puff your chest out, take your phone, and check your email" in order to "gather data" on the girl and see if she can be "a possible mate". Right Brain, meanwhile, has some other thoughts...

    Theatre 
  • Pretending to check a text is mentioned in Be More Chill during the song "Michael in the Bathroom".
    Michael: I'd rather fake pee/ Than stand awkwardly/ Or pretend to check a text on my phone"

    Video Games 
  • In Life Is Strange, Max describes one of her classmates as "hiding behind his phone", presumably via this trope.

    Web Original 
  • Pokémon World Tour: United: In order to find out whether her cousin Amelia is a crooked cop, Rose Jenny pickpockets Amelia's phone-slash-Pokedex to go through its contacts and messages. In a moment of Refuge in Audacity, she plays up her Bratty Teenage Daughter reputation within the family to pull out the phone in front of Amelia herself and search it while looking like she's busying herself with it while an otherwise important conversation is going on.

    Web Video 
  • The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: When Jane and Charlotte discuss Darcy's developing interest in Lizzy, they portray his poor social skills and awkwardness in their "costume theatre". Charlotte says he should work on his game. Apparently, Darcy was fake texting during their night out.
    Charlotte-as-Caroline: Oh look. Your little crush is coming this way.
    Jane-as-Darcy: [turns her back and begins fiddling with her phone]
    Charlotte-as-Caroline: Are you fake texting?
    Jane-as-Darcy: It's super important.

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