Texting While Walking Is Pretty Hard, And People Think They’re Better At It Than They Actually Are
Sorry to break it to you over-achieving millennials (myself included), but a sense of mobility and your mobile phone rarely go hand-in-hand.
In a recent study published in the journal PLOS One, scientists observed how well 21 young adults texted and walked simultaneously.
As it turns out, those who use their phones on-the-go take longer to reach their destination.
I mean, I can eat dinner, keep up with a group text message, and watch the newest episode of Game of Thrones simultaneously -- like a pro.
How hard can it possibly be to skim your best friend's urgent, morning woes texts (that guy she met on Tinder broke it off again, and she spilled coffee all over brand new shoes) while you walk to the office from your subway stop?
Apparently, it is pretty hard to script a legible text message and walk a straight line at the same time.
In comparison to those walking sans cell phone in hand, the study showed text-walkers took 118 percent longer to get from point A to point B, while it took those talking on the phone 83 percent longer to do so.
What's possibly even more embarrassing is that, when some were tasked with just reading the text while walking, it still took them 67 percent longer to reach their destination than those without a phone in hand.
On the bright side, no one tripped throughout the duration of this experiment, so at least we know millennials can at least text and balance.
They still can't walk in a straight line, though.
I used to walk every day from the train station up 25 blocks to work every day with headphones in my ears, which was never a problem, until the album ended, and I'd have to look down to change artists.
Soon enough, I'd look up and realize I'd been walking diagonally.
It sounds weird, but texting and walking can be almost, if not equally, as dangerous as texting and driving.
While phones users are typically cautious about these multitasking habits, no one is perfect, and even someone who thinks they're being aware of their surroundings can still find themselves blindsided by an oncoming car or pedestrian.
I know for me, there have definitely been times where, lost in a deep-rooted discussion via text, I took my peripheral vision for granted, and almost walked into the middle of a busy New York City street.
And it's not just texting distracting myself and others from simple tasks like walking -- it's social media applications, gone-viral videos we just have to watch now, all of these online accessories that challenge the ability to disconnect from the online world and focus on the literal path right in front of us.
Belgium, Chongquin, China, and Washington D.C. have all experimented with “text walking lanes,” that are designated areas along the sidewalk for text-walkers to avoid pedestrian collisions.
The potential to be effective was there, to possibly send a message (no pun intended) to text-walkers to put their phones down.
Unfortunately, though not unsurprisingly, texters barely noticed the thick white lines separating the walkway.
As for those who did, they stopped briefly to snap a picture and post it to Instagram.
If you honestly feel incapable of ignoring your phone for the sake of safely walking down the street, it may be time for a digital detox.
I'll be the first to admit, I'm just as addicted to my cell phone as the next Insta-scroller, but there's a time and place for texting.
En route to work on your feet is not one of those times.
So put the phone away, pick your head up, and pay attention to what's around you.
Walk first, text later.