Wednesday, October 16, 2013

"Weird Time"

"Weird Time"
There is a phrase in the user experience world that describes how people interact with their electronic devices when they have "nothing better to do"--at least they think they have nothing better to do. Checking the electronic device is, afterall, an efficient use of time, right?

Take for example this guy in the sketch I made above (at the Brown Elephant Resale Shop in Andersonville, suburbs of Chicago, IL). While I did not have a conversation with this guy, I know that he was doing the good-husband thing by "shopping" with his wife. The way it works is the happy couple enters the shop together and then they somehow get split up--the wife goes to the clothes and knick-knacks and the husband says he is going to check out the furniture.

After a few seconds, when the husband sees that his better half is safely out of range, he pulls out his smart phone so that he can quickly check text messages, Facebook posts, or in this case the Chicago Bears football score. He does this while standing, or hiding, behind the big cabinet in the background. When more and more time goes by, now the husband feels that his wife is really distracted by the cute dress that she found on the rack and a few other items. She gets caught in the tough decision mode. He has now moved onto the couch and the scores of other football games because he is invested in a Fantasy Football league and wants to see how he is doing overall.

I see this kind of behavior at the train station, airports, long cashier lines at the store, waiting for a ride at DisneyWorld and, God forbid, at a signal light with moving traffic. The term "weird time" is meant to describe how the person with the electronic device feels when they are in the company of strangers and feel awkward about looking stupid or striking up a conversation. I understand because I am the same way except that I will pull out my sketchbook to comfort those "weird" feelings of awkwardness. I must add that I never sketch while sitting at a stoplight and my sketches are a longer lasting feeling than those filler moments of checking to see if I am still relevant to the rest of the digital world. 

So what happened with our couple above? Eventually she returned to find him on the couch with his phone and gives him the signal that she is done and ready to go. So he gets up and they leave together laughing about the fun things they had both found in The Brown Elephant.


  1. I've just been informed that my "man card" privileges have been revoked until further notice. I must have given away some deep dark secret. I feel like the Penn & Teller of the urban sketching world.

  2. It's not a secret Wes, we all women are very aware of it and guess what? We don't mind it!


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