Petextrians

img_4856 by Steph Holton

In October, I fell down a flight of stairs in Lincoln Hall. It was not the way I’d planned on leaving film class that day, but then again, my attention was mostly on my phone at the time. Other than several days of a limp, I was lucky enough not to sustain any major injuries, thus my friends and family felt the luxury of laughing at my clumsiness. I’m glad it turned out that way instead of what could easily have been broken bones.

I’m telling you this story to show that I’m guilty of being a petextrian. That is, a person walking while distracted by their handheld device. According to CBS News, at least 10 percent of pedestrians ending up in emergency rooms are injured from distracted walking, and in a recent survey, more than three-quarters of Americans said distracted walking is a “serious issue.”

If the recognition is there, why are people still falling off cliff edges while looking through a lens and walking onto train tracks while checking email?

Last year, I wrote a blog declaring my New Year’s resolution to lessen my cell phone use in order to more fully engage in the moment. I realize what a challenge that is in the Digital Age that we live in, but the statistics on distracted walking are clear, and so my appeal to you now is more urgent: Don’t be another YouTube video of a pedestrian jumping out of the way of the Max at the last moment.

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