However, the notion that they're the cause of a new antisocial mindset ridding the world of cheery small talk and polite conversation would appear to be total bull.
The following archive video belongs to the Kinolibrary Archive Film library, an independent agency that collects remarkable historic footage from around the world. Filmed in and around the London Underground in the late 1960s, it's a rare window into what the average commute looked like in the UK's capital some 50 years ago.
The suits are huge. The hair cuts are understated. But more striking than any obvious sixties culture trend is the total lack of conversation between Londoners, who'd apparently much rather dip into a broadsheet newspaper or gaze into middle distance than acknowledge their fellow travellers. And also the fact that people used to smoke on the underground.
Maybe it's just a city thing? Maybe us Brits have always been rubbish at making smalltalk away from bus stops or queues for the post office? Maybe it's a genetic thing, that what we all want is just a nice quiet sit down - ideally with a cup of tea.