I find myself an unsuspecting victim of a new social phenomenon that affected me four times last week and although in some cases I try my best to avoid it, increasingly I find myself a victim of…

Distracted walking…

I don’t know if that is an official title for this new social phenomenon, but whatever the term is I find it to be more prevalent in the corridors I move within. I freely admit this post does carry uncensored bias because not only do I live in an overcrowded, overpriced city with an estimated population of about 8 million; I work in an environment full of technology dependent teenagers who can’t survive walking a five minute distance between classes without intensely glaring into a smartphone with no particular care or consideration for an innocent bystander.

But teens are too easy to take a swipe at, because (to be fair) they have been raised in the fast paced embrace of a digital age, but fully grown adults aren’t much better either! Which makes me wonder if this new cultural phenomenon is on the rise? Will there be an increase in collisions, knocks and bumps between individuals totally immersed in the wondrous delights of mobile phone content? Are mobile devices so captivating that accidently knocking into a passing stranger is worth the risk?

Phones have come a long way since the glory days of the Nokia 3210, when changeable covers and customisable ringtones were part of both technological revolution and revelation! Mobile phones have gone onto seek and destroy the need for alarm clocks, calculators, calendars, torches, portable radios, stop watches and cameras…and at this rate these multifaceted mobile devices may even be bold enough to take the crown away from the 80 year dominance of television!

After recently reading that a study by Ohio State University found that 256 distracted walking related injuries were reported in the US in 2005 and this number increased five-fold to 1,506 recorded in 2010! Making me wonder if China has the right idea having 30 meter designated pedestrian phone lanes, although for that to work it would still require people to maintain spatial awareness of those around them. Or does the town of Fort Lee in New Jersey have the right idea in banning texting while walking completely?

But even I can’t get too hypocritical on this issue, because the powerful mini computer I carry around in my pocket is more than just my mobile device it is my companion. My journey to work isn’t the same unless I feel the addictive rush of moving up a level on Farm Heroes Super Saga 2, but if I am going to live and navigate in a city of over 8 million people I just can’t afford to be too blindly absorbed by the content that radiates from my smartphone screen.

Although I admire The Walking Dead’s lead character Rick Grimes ability to survive six seasons (so far) of a post-apocalyptic zombie existence, he wouldn’t stand a chance trying to avoid collisions against the rising surge of today’s digital daywalkers.

Until next time.