Image 1965 ... "DANGER Will Robinson!" courtesy of flickr and James Vaughn, edited size, (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0),

Warning! Danger, Will Robinson! Footpath ahead!

Newcastle University recently sent a message to all staff warning of the dangers of walking and texting, after ‘numerous’ staff have been treated for smart phone and walking related injuries.  The Sydney Morning Herald reported on this communication recently and some perplexed, if not bemused reactions to the issued safety alert by staff and students.

When I first read this article, I thought it seemed like further proof that there is a pervading sense of loss of common sense in the world. But then I remembered the time I walked into the half-raised garage door I walked smack into, in the backyard at home while I was looking at something on my phone (cannot recall if I was texting or on the net, perhaps I suffered slight concussion?).

I feel the need to multi-task (even though it’s productivity has been debunked); I like to think that I have a healthy dose of common sense but I still text and walk.  Why?  A few reasons: FOMO – I’m a news/info addict. I can’t seem to read enough news sites or the like, in a day.  The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning, is read the news, then check the weather; I feel like I’m being super-productive if I read work emails on the way in on the commute, then that frees up some time when I get into the office; there always seems to be an endless list of things to look up, check, pay, people to contact but this is really an extension of feeling super-productive/time poor/so busy – thus reinforcing the behaviour-action feedback loop.  Even my manager has seen me walking and mobiling (I’m not just texting), and reminded me that I will run into something.

Yet I still continue to do it.  So too the other people around me, streaming up the footpath from the train station.  As do those coming the opposite way, those who walk into other people, those who stop dead suddenly, in the middle of the footpath with many people behind near crashing into them as they obliviously like something on Facebook.   Do we need such warnings on campus Does anyone remember the WHS warnings a while back, highlighting the potential danger of the balls dropped from the trees lining Wally’s Walk as a risk hazard?

But who am I to judge?  Maybe it’s something really important they are doing? Maybe they are having a tough day or just received unexpected news?  All I know is that I’m far from perfect, which reminds me to be more kind to others who do something seemingly lacking common sense.

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