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China’s digital obsession

The internet is paying havoc with the way Chinese people interact with each other

By Yuan Ren   June 2017

©Dan Sipple/Getty Images

Dining out with a friend recently, I only realised that two people sitting opposite us were together when they got up to leave. For over half an hour they had appeared to be strangers: her taking selfies, him reading on his phone. When I pointed this out to my companion, he replied, “They probably just messaged each other to ask if they should head out.’”

In China, the act of “phubbing,” as it is known (a contraction of “phone-snubbing”) is far more noticeable—and definitely more acceptable—than…

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