Alternative Media Stunt Offers Tongue-in-Cheek Solution to a Serious Problem
Distracted Pedestrians, I’ll admit I’m one of them. We’re a problem. Walking down the street, we’ve become iPhone toting zombies, texting away, not paying attention to traffic, other pedestrians or physical objects such as light poles. Even at the grocery stores and in the malls, mobile phone users of all generations are doing the texting zombie walk and it’s dangerous. The other day I tripped over the curb responding to a text from my husband on what we were having for dinner, which was spaghetti by the way. Had I been wearing heels, I may just have rolled into traffic. Glendale woman dies doing the texting zombie walk in downtown Milwaukee. What a way to go!
We are constantly reminded not to text and drive. Recent campaigns like Band Together, sponsored by local Milwaukee news station WTMJ4, seeks to build awareness of the dangers of texting and driving by providing thumb bands to the community as a symbolic pledge. However, the dangers of texting and walking are not as often addressed.
Zombie jokes aside, the phenomenon of texting and walking has actually become a serious problem. In the past year, there were about 1,100 people treated in hospital emergency departments reported while walking and using a cellphone or some other handheld electronic device, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission .
Recently an alternative media stunt by Improv Everywhere took to the streets of Manhattan to offer assistance to the iPhone zombies calling themselves Seeing Eye People. They wore orange vests with writing that said, “I can help you walk and text.” The texter grabbed a leash attached to the Seeing Eye Person and continued to text away safely, while the Seeing Eye Person cleared paths for them on the sidewalks, made sure they stopped at crosswalks, avoided traffic, etc. Sixty people participated in this stunt. Half were Seeing Eye People, and half were text zombies.
Though poking fun at the fact that technology has us so distracted, the stunt drew attention to something that’s become a real problem, and it worked. A video posted on You Tube has over a million views. An article on Buzzfeed received more than 1,200 Facebook “likes” and was tweeted hundreds of times. Media outlets Good Day NY and the Huffington Post, among many others picked up on the stunt as well.
For those of you who recognize you are part of this problem, there are actually apps to help you avoid injury, death and annoying others. Type-n-Walk displays a transparent view of what’s in front of you on your phone to help you avoid accidents. It’s available at the iTunes store for $.99.