At some point in your life, you'll want to shirk any sense of obligation and propriety you might have and bury yourself in a deep, dark hole of self-loathing and Netflix. It's OK—it happens. And your gadgets are here to help.
Thankfully, humankind has evolved to a point where technology can make our excuses for us, so long as you know how to use it. Worry yourself not with old saws like "lying is wrong" and "people are depending on you." They'll be OK! For all they know, everything you say is true! Everything will be OK.
Or at least just keep telling yourself that, you lying sunofabitch.
Assuming they are currently off, turn on read receipts by going to Settings > Messages > Send Read Receipts and flip the switch. I know. It goes against everything you've ever been taught. But then they'll know, you say. Not if you're careful, as any good flake should be.
The trick is to never ever open your messages app until you're sure it's safe—plausible deniability! So the next time someone texts you, check the message without actually checking the message by using either your lock screen or your notification center. You'll get to judge whether or not you want to get involved before ever acknowledging a damn thing. Because according to your target's infallible phone, you haven't even seen the message. You could be anywhere.
This one is subtle, but wildly important when you haven't finished a project—an assignment, The Big Report, what have you—on time. So how do we solve this problem, you lazy good-for-nothing? (Lie about) Remove(ing) yourself from the computer entirely.
Of course, to do this, you're going to need send an email from your phone. Should you, in fact, be pants-less in bed watching reruns on Netflix, you can still use your computer. Just make sure to delete your email signature and, most importantly, tack on a "Via mobile" (or similar). And—this is key—use correct capitalization to mimic your phone's autocorrect. You're all set. Hell, just use that as your signature all the time!
Locked out of your apartment? Fourth dead grandma this month? Trapped in the balloon house from Up? All events that make it impossible to reach your computer but, more importantly, they're all hectic. Lying after the fact never works, but creating an invented, stressful scenario in the heat of the moment a) helps you appear genuinely sorry/accountable and b) if you're lucky, stresses out the other person, too. No one wants to question you when you're on the brink of a meltdown.
This one is mostly the same as the above, although you're slightly more limited in your options. If you're playing hooky at work, make sure everything you send from your phone isn't properly capitalized. For instance, Gawker Media sites use slack to chat during the work day. Slack also comes with a handy iPhone app—but that doesn't mean anyone has to know when you're using it. The above message was sent from my phone, but thanks to my casually irreverent "i," no one's any the wiser.
A word of caution: Only attempt the above if your coworkers aren't dirty, dirty narcs.
If you have decided to not follow any of my advice and find yourself in an unfortunate human-to-human interaction, your phone can still save you, thanks to IFTTT's new Do app. So long as you set it up beforehand, you can covertly open the app, and press the big, friendly button to send yourself a call.
The best part—the call will always come in as the same number, so you can save it in your phone book as anything you like: Mom, Significant Other, Hospital, Coroner, Emergency Army Reserves—all valid options that might need to pull you away at a moments notice. Just make sure they don't see you press.
Facebook has a lot of unfortunate qualities, but the worst of them all? Showing when you've read someone's message. The people who talk to you on Facebook are generally the last people you'd want to be dragged into conversation with. High school "friends" you haven't talked to in years, out of touch relatives, a lonely ex—all best avoided. But you don't want to be rude by blatantly ignoring them.
Thankfully, the internet has a solution. A variety of extensions exist that hide the fact that you've read someone's Facebook message. I myself use Facebook Unseen. You can turn it off and on with the push of a button, and it hasn't failed me yet. Have I seen Eric's uncomfortable pleas for reassurance? You bet I have!
But he doesn't need to know that.