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Video: Texting is really hard to show in movies

Jennifer Garner texting in the upcoming movie Men, Women, & Children
Jennifer Garner texting in the upcoming movie Men, Women, & Children
Alex Abad-Santos is a senior correspondent who explains what society obsesses over, from Marvel and movies to fitness and skin care. He came to Vox in 2014. Prior to that, he worked at the Atlantic.

Texting and tweeting are a fundamental part of our everyday lives. Hunching over our phones and tapping with our fingers has become second nature to us. What we don't often think about, though, is how that looks to an outside observer, or how a director and actor would try to depict this action in the movie.

Quite simply, it's hard — harder than you think. It's really easy to make texting, tweeting, and the internet look dopey or unrealistic:

Dan GG

Dan from Gossip Girl typing something smarmy, we bet. (Gossip Girl)

But movies have slowly gotten better at depicting this. The trailer for Men, Women & Children, a new movie from Up in the Air director Jason Reitman, was released on Tuesday and heavily features this conceit. That makes it a good time to consider how far texting on screen has come.

In this short video, filmmaker Tony Zhou explores the ways movies have (both good and bad) tried to depict people staring down at their phones and texting away, as well as how onscreen characters use the Internet:

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