Bird flu. Spanish flu. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. Smallpox. Zombification. These diseases strike fear into the hearts of hypochondriac humans everywhere. We live on an overcrowded planet teeming with drug-resistant bacteria and a CDC that, let’s be honest, probably plays an office-wide game of infectious disease roulette on the first Friday of every month. But there is a recent epidemic that has left all of humanity terror-stricken.
Raise your hand if you have ever had someone run into you while they were texting.
We have all been guilty of texting while walking, and potentially running into our fellow pedestrians as a result. It’s hard not to wonder what it means for us as a species. Do we really think our thoughts are so important that everything and everybody else should step aside while we transmit them?
My favorite personal example of the latter was a student in the hallway one morning, furiously texting away, while barreling straight ahead, only to look up suddenly and angrily reprimand me with an “excuse YOU!” for not clearing her path. It seems that owning a smart phone has a distorting effect on some people’s sense of entitlement.
Will public sidewalks some day be adorned with accommodating signs for people who need their texting fix? At least that way the rest of us could walk safely and engage with the real world. It would look like this: street, bike lane, texting lane, sidewalk.
Consequences of texting while walking include, but are not limited to, bumping into walls, falling down stairs, tripping over clutter or stepping into traffic. This is why I feel we should just leave it to natural selection.
In all seriousness, this is truly a problem. Texting and walking may seem harmless, but prioritizing a phone may not stop with texting and walking. It can spill over into texting and biking, texting and driving and many other extremely dangerous activities.
We seem to have switched from stopping to smell the roses to … smelling the phone screen. Which is fine. After all, there is an app for that.