Most people are aware that texting while driving (TWD) is a really bad idea not to mention illegal in many states. Being distracted while driving can be tantamount to a catastrophic end for the driver as well as an unsuspecting motorist or pedestrian.
How about being distracted while walking? If you live in or near any large city you have to know to what I am referring. People are walking down the street staring down at their mobile device, texting, emailing, or doing whatever but barely looking around to see where they are going. This past summer I began to walk more than ever around New York and I am making no exaggeration when I note that at least half of the people I see walking down the street are interacting with their mobile devices but not the world around them.
I made a conscious decision to not TWD (hey it’s just stupid), but I have also made a conscious decision to not walk down the street staring at my phone or texting the entire time. Why? You miss all the things that are going on around you. When I walk from Grand Central down to Soho to the office in the mornings (no not every day) it takes about 40 minutes. It’s a great way to start the day. I get some needed exercise as it is about 2.5 miles (4K for you non U.S. based readers), but I get a great deal more out of it than exercise.
Taking a slightly different route each time offers me new things to see. NYC doormen (door people?) are a rather friendly lot when you actually make eye contact with them. Saying good morning often brings a smile and a return greeting. There are parents taking their kids to school, store workers cleaning sidewalks and setting up for the day, people of all professions going to work (or breakfast I imagine). The city seems alive with potential and just life in general. I think about things – lots of things. What I will be doing that day, that evening, that week, or the coming weekend. I allow the stimuli to help open up my thinking about things that are on my mind and the combination of fresh air, and getting the blood flowing really helps me look at things with a slightly different perspective.
I’m not saying I would never answer the phone or check for a message that I was waiting for as I am walking to and fro. However in keeping my head up I somehow feel more connected to what’s going on around me and I actually feel sorry for those that have lost touch with such a simple pleasure – at least that’s the way I see it.
Do you walk around with your head up?