Sunday, April 26, 2015

Dodgeball for the 21st century

At least once a day, I avoid a collision in some public corridor. 

I've been working in a busy, crowded building, filled with professionals. And nearly every near-collision (a near-miss would be a collision) results from the other person gazing intently at a smartphone as they walk.

Is this the new normal? Professionals transfixed by a handheld four-inch screen?

By PeterLigerry (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0
/3.0) or GFDL (],
via Wikimedia Commons
I was away from the business mainstream for about 20 months. In that interim, smartphones have become an inseparable extension of many people's lives. Perhaps a substitute for authentic human interaction. 

And while I own a tablet-esque device, I intentionally didn't bite on a full iPhone, because I wanted opportunities not to be drawn to stare at that screen. 

It feels like we're a few steps away, as a culture, from becoming hypnotized by these devices. 

I'm not delighted by this cultural change. I'm not thrilled at having to re-learn long-forgotten dodgeball skills just to walk down a busy corridor. Or sidestep pedestrians on sidewalks who are having a too-intimate relationship with a little box full of circuits and LEDs.

My recommendation: once a day, you should schedule yourself for a disconnect. A respite. Turn off your gadget. Remove your Beats or Skullcandy headphones. Maybe go find another companion for your walk. 

Two- or four-footed. Your choice.


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