SMART PHONES, DUMB HABITS: New Yorker says talkers have replaced tourists as sidewalks' biggest headache.Here are some quotes:
"It was a miserable morning in New York, rain falling heavily and a 30 mph wind that made holding an umbrella difficult. Yet a man walked briskly up Fifth Avenue, balancing his umbrella and dodging pedestrians as he texted from his smart phone.
As a sheer physical act, it was almost Olympian in the strength, dexterity and concentration required.
It was also completely ridiculous.
It was RAINING. And cold. The man was, let's presume, minutes from some destination. At any moment, he could spear a fellow pedestrian with his umbrella because he was only marginally paying attention to where he was going. What message could possibly be so important that it couldn't wait?
While smart phones and other electronic devices changed popular culture by offering an ability to always stay connected, they have so swiftly turned into such a compelling need that a simple walk down the street is considered wasted time.
Smart phones have replaced tourists as New York pedestrians' biggest headache. We used to disdain people from out of town when they wandered slowly on the sidewalks, looking skyward at tall buildings and muttering as we walked by with purpose.
Now we're the menace.
We also used to walk with a certain amount of hyperawareness. Remember muggers creeping from dark corners? Pickpockets who worked the crowds? Now many people walk down the street oblivious to their surroundings, fiddling with an electronic device worth hundreds of dollars.
I've been to parties where clumps of people stared into devices, or texted, instead of actually conversing with humans around them. I always marvel upon landing on a redeye flight from the West Coast at how many people immediately take out their phones and begin dialing. It's 5:30 a.m. — 2:30 in the city they've left. Who are they calling?
William Powers once saw two women in New York crashing baby strollers into one another because they were both concentrating on phones. Powers, a former Washington Post reporter, wrote the book "Hamlet's BlackBerry," about how an addiction to technology prevents people from doing their best work or forging healthy relationships.
Powers believes things will calm down as people become more accustomed to the technology.
So there's hope. In the meantime, look out for yourself on the street. No one else is."
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