Walking and Texting – Modus Erraticus

This video from Improv Everywhere made me smile this morning:

If you’ve walked in any public place recently you’ll relate to the challenge. Once upon a time the people who were a menace on the pavement were people walking a bit slower than everyone else. It was relatively easy to negotiate your way around these people because all you had to do was to execute a simple overtake manoeuvre and you were past them.

Over recent years though a new menace has entered our streets, these are the people who are distracted by the little screen in front of them. The problem with these people is not just that they are generally going slower than everyone else, but that they also behave erratically.

My own particular grievance is with those people who are walking along at a pace keeping everything moving, and then they receive a text. There response to this text is an immediate transition into a new mode which means that they can no longer be relied upon to behave like everyone else, they are now in modus erraticus. This is especially annoying when it’s a member of the group of people that you are walking with.

It’s another example of the massive social change that our response to technology is precipitating. Note here that I’m not blaming technology for the problem, but our response to it, although, I do think that there is a balance to make. The design of technology isn’t completely agnostic in these situations, much of our response to technology is automatic and would require a significant amount of retraining to change.

New modes of being plugged-in are on their way that may less social impact, but I suspect that they will still result in attention problems, just different ones.

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