Rick Nelson and Claude Peck dispense unasked-for advice about clothing, etiquette, culture, relationships, grooming and more.


CP: Pundits are bemoaning a drop-off in empathy due to our constant interaction with digital devices. Yet I would argue that you are even more empathetic since you began going hard-core into Facebook and the Twitter.


RN: What can I say? I’m a giver.


CP: One example: Your expressive attention to the woes and triumphs of your favorite soap stars has increased dramatically.


RN: Speaking of which, poor Will Horton. The most prominent gay man on “Days of Our Lives” appears to have had a fatal run-in with Salem’s Necktie Killer. We are devastated. You were saying?


CP: As has your ability to convey your true feelings about goings-on at the Tom + Lorenzo celebrity site.


RN: In between following the latest national and international breaking news, I enjoy a glimpse at the fashions on the red carpet. So sue me.


CP: Do you agree that we are substantially diminished as a people by a culture of narcissism brought on by smartphones and social media?


RN: It’s a bottomless pit. Sometimes I do find myself thumbing through my iPhone until the battery hits the 20 percent mark, and I think, how did that happen? Kind of like the surprise of feeling the spoon hit the bottom of the Ben & Jerry’s carton.


CP: I remember how we had to airdrop in battery packs when your device died in the middle of your State Fair food report. Just like the Battle of Britain, only with Duracells and mini-doughnuts.


RN: If Apple can make a phone that can do everything but change a dirty diaper, you’d think it could also design a battery that lasts longer than a few dozen tweets. A person can’t obsessively follow Jason Statham’s Instagram goings-on with a dead iPhone, Claude.


CP: Sounds like your hubby might prefer it if you spent less time stalking and more time talking.


RN: I think that pretty much describes every marriage in America right now.


CP: Of course, he would have to get off his tablet and those Hulu reruns of “The Big Valley.” Was it Laotzu who said, “Conversation is a two-way thingy”?


RN: I know, but I can hardly blame him. If you’ve seen Lee Majors as Heath Barkley in those early “TBV” episodes, you’d understand. Hi.


CP: I wouldn’t know, as I am busy checking my music, Litrachoor and foreign film sites. I need something to fill my lonely hours now that gabbing on my push-button Princess phone seems to have come to a grinding halt.


RN: Landlines are so 2010. And I wasn’t aware that my iPhone was actually usable as a telephonic device.


CP: Anymore, why speak to one paltry person when instead you can instantly communicate to your giant base of friends and followers?


RN: Of course, I’m ruining whatever eyesight I have left, reading, say, the entire Sunday New York Times on my phone, which I hold about 6 inches from my eyeballs. Because I’m old.


E-mail: witheringglance@startribune.com

Twitter: @claudepeck and @RickNelsonStrib