I was recently walking down Market Street in San Francisco and noticed how many people had their heads down looking at their phones. I realized how little eye contact I was having with people passing me. I started to wonder how much time I have been spending as a Pedextrian.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans own a cell phone. Ten to 15% of Americans use the phone as their only access to the internet. Sixty-two percent of Americans have looked up a health condition online. 43% have searched for a job on their phone. We also admit that 54% of us have walked into something while distracted by our devices. And 2000 Americans were seen in an emergency room this year due to walking and being distracted by cell phone use. We have become “Pedextrians”.
I noticed I was starting to walk with my head down too. I was looking at my phone for texts and emails while I was walking. I boldly decided to stop texting and reading my phone while walking. I’ll be the first to admit…this is not easy, it is so tempting to grab it out of my pocket. But I’m determined to have my heads up! Nothing I am doing is life or death so I’ve decided no more walking with my head down.
I’ve now spent four weeks walking without cell phone texting, reading emails, and other distracting activities. I admit, I’ve slipped up a few times but the more I focus on it, the less I even want to text, email, or read my phone while walking. I feel free from my phone!
I’m noticing the sky more. I’m saying hello to strangers again. I’m engaging people with smiles and “Good Morning”. I’m also breathing deeper as walking has become a restorative time. I’m watching clouds, birds, flowers and my neighbors. I’m noticing who needs help and who just needs a comforting smile of kindness.
Give it a try. I challenge you to spend a week with your head up. What do you notice? What’s it like to not be a Pedextrian? Are you noticing anything different about yourself? your neighborhood? your relationships? I’ll be there waiting for you with my head up, we can say Good Morning to each other.
I have to admit, the more I keep my head up, the more I am enjoying walking through the city, smart phone free!