"Is it so bad to prefer talking with a long distance partner using a smartphone than with someone who does not interest me, but happens to be next to me (Carral, 2015)?"
People care about other people. When caring, it's natural to want to interact and communicate with others. As a result, people often socialize with who they feel the need to socialize with. Within the past 20 years, technology has advanced to the point where it is a pinnacle addition to communicative methods. Technology and its advancements has allowed people to communicate with others thousands of miles away, instantly. It also allows us to keep up with friends and family, people in our outer circle, perhaps a favorite celebrity, news organization, or sports team.
The idea that technology and social media is causing isolation is blasphemy. Virtual social interactions do not have less meaning or less importance than an interaction with someone in close proximity to you. Using Carral, (2015)'s subway example; the person using their smart phone on the subway (instead of chatting with a friend of a friend they don't know extremely well) is benefiting from their cell phone usage whilst ignoring the acquaintance. They could be catching up with grandma on Skype, on Facebook chatting with someone overseas, or reading a very thought provoking article and commenting on an online forum. People are not isolated while using technology; instead, they are connected to a network of others. A person can learn and grow socially using these advanced tools we now use to communicate.
In regards to who is right in the argument of talking to strangers more or staying comfortable in our established networks, I say we are allowed to ignore the acquaintance in person. It is right to stick to what you know and be content with what you're doing on your phone. I think question to be asked is, "am I ignoring this person for a good enough reason?" If you're going to flat out ignore someone you have a small friendship with, you should be doing something productive rather than using your smartphone as an escape. I think that is where the argument begins.
So, I think the middle ground in this matter would be if people on both sides of the argument were to try to see the other side a bit more. Those that value face-to-face interaction as opposed to online interactions could try Skyping a relative who doesn't live close by. As stated previously, technology has advanced to the point where you really make it whatever you want it to be. What I mean by that is that technology can be beneficial and helpful to everyone (in aiding communication/interactions) if they choose to use it correctly.