Andujar: We’ve all become “smombies”


This is an installment in Suzette Andujar’s weekly column “As I Was Saying”

It is spreading like peanut butter. I mean it’s getting everywhere. It is most definitely happening on campus. I’ve seen it a few times today while walking from class to class. People bumping into doors. People bumping into each other. People losing their footing and nearly falling down hills.

What is happening?

I’m talking about texting while walking. Oh yeah, it’s dangerous. I can see Michael Bay getting his hands on this as a disaster film. Everyone has their head down – explosion. No one is paying attention – explosion.

One day I was walking to class and felt confident enough to hum. A few years ago people would have looked at me with the ‘she’s-crazy-this-is-a-street-not-The-Voice’ face, but now people just don’t care. There’s actually a word for this phenomenon; Germany holds an annual Youth Word of the Year contest and last year’s word was ‘smombie,’ a smartphone zombie.

We’ve all become smombies.

I’m going to throw a statistic at you. There was research done at The Ohio State University and they found that in 2010, an estimated 1,500 people were treated in emergency rooms suffering cell phone walking related injuries. That was five years ago. Can you imagine what the number would look like now? You don’t have to imagine any longer; I looked into it. Geoffrey A. Fowler from the ‘Wall Street Journal’ wrote an article, “Texting While Walking Isn’t Funny Anymore” and mentions how he, “crunched data from the Consumer Product Safety Commision and discovered that emergency room visits involving distracted pedestrians using cellphones were up 124 percent in 2014 from 2010.”

Now that we’ve got a few facts under our belts, I’ll go ahead and say it. Hello, my name is Suzette and I’m a text-while-walking addict. It’s under control now, but the road to get here wasn’t easy. If you’ve read my other articles then you’d know that I have a flair for embarrassment. You see, it’s so easy to handle emails through my phone and I was waiting for an important one from my adviser. It came in while I was on my way to class and I read it while I walked and ended up tripping down a hill. I didn’t pull a full-on Jack and Jill, thank goodness. Maybe one or two people saw what happened; everyone else was on their phones, so I had that going for me. It’s scary to lose your footing! I decided that when I leave class, or anywhere for that matter, I’d put my phone in my backpack, or purse, and keep my head up. It’s so hard, but after a few days I felt unplugged, like Neo in the Matrix.

In all seriousness, I implore you, my dear reader, to be careful out there. Texting while walking is dangerous and we don’t want Michael Bay to make another movie, now do we?