This has been making the rounds on Twitter recently:
See? People were ignoring each other with paper, and newspapers, and knitting! So why are you whiners complaining about smartphones? Families have been ignoring each other forever.
Well, I’m not so sure. Of course, arguing with something like this runs the risk of sounding pedantic and boring (it’s just a painting with a funny caption! can’t you take a joke?). But taking what’s meant to be a lighthearted (or only slightly barbed) meme seriously, and asking what’s going on in the painting, who these people are, and what it means to ignore someone, turns out to be an interesting and revealing little exercise.