Author: Justin Mckibben
As technology advances and as our thoughts and actions as a society focus more and more on social media and staying connected through technology, many have alluded to the idea that people are slowly but surely become the catalyst for a new addiction. You would think this a parody, but it is a scary truth that there is actually a specific sidewalk out there designed for ‘texters’, showing the dependence on cell-phones like a drug is a concept that typically flies under the radar, and even though a lot of people joke about it, the cellphone addiction may be as real as real life. We are literally beginning to adjust our environment to sustain the need to stay in constant communication and keep our every idea and action in circulation through apps and texts.
Texting and Walking?
We are already being reminded pretty consistently to put away our smartphones when we are driving around, but there are very few warnings when it comes to being so deeply immersed in them, which is pretty much all the time, when we walk around. Now Chongqing City in China has actually come up with a innovative and truly hilarious way to highlight the growing issue. The city has actually created a special ‘texters’‘lane!
The 50-meter (165-foot) stretch of pavement is divided into two halves for maximum walking efficiency. One lane appropriately labeled “cell phones, walk at your own risk” and the other lane marked “no cell phones”, is located at the city’s Foreigner Street. Now given Foreigner Street is a theme park that is known for its strange and unique collection of “all the best of what ain’t from China“. So this newest addition is not too much out of character for the area.
According to the officials who had the formidable task of painting the two lanes in mid-September, they got the idea from a similar experiment that National Geographic conducted for an episode of the upcoming series, Mind over Masses in Washington DC, in July 2014.
Among the attractions of Foreigner Street that draw visitors in by the thousands every single day, are recreations of international landmarks that include a miniature New York City, the Venetian Canals and even though it is not technically foreign, a 150-meter (492-foot) replica of the ‘Great Wall of China’ made the cut as a featured exhibit.
Investigating the Impact
Unfortunately, according to National Geographic the pedestrians did not in either case respect the guidelines set forth in order to regulate the two lanes and improve the traffic of commuters. And why would this be? Probably a pretty easy answer when you think about it, most of the people walking on the sidewalk were too busy with their minds so thoroughly engaged with their cell phones to even heed or even notice the momentary pavement segregation! The irony of which should be lost on no one.
Funnier still is that those that did acknowledge the lines either chose to ignore the separation, or followed it for a short length of the walk. However, they too soon became too fell victim to the compulsion to escape into the world of their cell phones, and inevitably they veered off to the ‘no cell phone’ trail without even realizing it. Showing that even when they knew they should have stayed off their phones to stay in that lane, they would still need to reach that technology for some sort of strange security of to appease some obsession.
Though the visitors to Foreigner Street do notice the special lane, they seem to treat it like another entertaining addition to this unusual park and did exactly what the park officials are encouraging them not to! People immediately pulled out their cell phones to take pictures, which they undoubtedly had to share with friends over apps and texts. That is with or without the filters, depending on personal preference.
So while the general assumption may remain that distracted cell-phone walking may not represent a real threat, a study conducted in 2010 performed by researchers at The Ohio State University (O-H!) revealed that distracted cell-phone walking actually played a major role in over 1,500 severe injuries! These incidents were ranging from people falling off walkways or bridges, to people even walking into oncoming traffic! This study pointed out a major concern, but only for people who walk… like ever. Or even people traveling by bike.
Simply put; we all need to take into consideration the fact that even though getting enough ‘likes’ on pictures of ourselves or our cats or sending that ‘urgent’ text about what you are and are not willing to ‘turn down’ for may be pretty important, the risks can be more costly than we care to admit. Is it possible that we can become powerless over our texting, and how much of life does it stand to make unmanageable?
Some addictions are easier to see than others, and an addiction to your smartphone might be a little easier to treat. Addiction to drugs or alcohol is a dangerous and over-all devastating disease, and it claims more lives every day, but there is hope. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135. We want to help. You are not alone.