We hear a lot about distracted driving (though far too many people still think it’s okay to text/talk on the phone/put on makeup while they’re behind the wheel) but not so much about distracted walking.
However, in our electronically plugged-in society, pedestrians locked in their own little bubbles are an increasing problem.
Most of the time it’s treated as something of a joke – a funny video or photo on Facebook or YouTube of the person who was too busy playing Angry Birds to notice that the dock was ending and wound up taking an unscheduled dip.
Or we shake our heads over the post about the person who walked into the lamp standard because they were too busy texting to notice it.
People bumping into other people in their distraction doesn’t attract much notice nowadays, except when it turns into a confrontation or fight.
People with their heads bent down, eyes glued to their phones is such a common sight that we don’t even remark on it much anymore.
And even if people are looking ahead of them they are often wearing headphones or ear buds, at least partially blocking out the sounds around them.
Like the noise of that car engine coming up behind, or the sound of the siren that should be alerting them to look around and make sure they stay out of the way.
Drivers used to have to worry mostly about children darting into traffic after a loose toy, or jaywalking pedestrians.
But now there’s a whole other category of people with which to be concerned – those who are plugged in.
We wish people would begin to recognize that neither they, nor anyone else in their lives, will die if they put their cell phone away for a few minutes.
How many times have you seen two people sitting at a restaurant table together only to be completely ignoring one another in favour of their gadgets?
What a waste.
And ironic. The very devices that are supposed to bring us closer than ever are alienating us from one another.
But the very least we can do is look up and tune in long enough to keep ourselves and others safe.
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