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Smalltalk v smartphone.

Babycakes Romero says social situations like weddings - where people sit down and eat, often with total strangers - can be awkward.

In the past, guests had to work at smalltalk - and by the end of an evening might have made new friends.

But now smartphones allow people to momentarily opt out.

Romero says he passes people on the street who don't seem present in the real world - they are "plugged in" instead.

He says someone will usually make a break and go for their phone first. And the older generation can be just as bad as the young.

The smartphone is, says Romero, an excuse to withdraw. No offence may be intended, but the lure of a "computer cuddle" is irresistible.