Thursday, March 27, 2014
Pre-emptively, before I can even write a proper post about it, I would like to claim authorship of the name of a new social phenomenon -- some might call it a blight -- now making its appearance in this blessed land.
I call it "dumbwalking."
It is the glacial gait, with eyes and attention glued to the screen, of persons who are attempting to travel on foot while operating a smart phone.
Perhaps citizens of other lands where smart phones became items of mass consumption earlier than in Japan have their own words for it. If so I would love to hear about them.
One used to be able to make transfers through Tokyo, Shinjuku or Shibuya stations at a furious clip, with everyone else making minute adjustments to avoid collision with you. It would not be much -- a turn of an ankle, a slightly harder clutching to the breast of a package -- but everyone's mutual spatial awareness prevented impacts or blockages.
Now we have the dumbwalkers, meandering on their random, semi-catatonic, purblind courses amid the crowd. Blinded snails, they see neither where they are going nor the way anyone else is going.
"Smart phones make for dumb walks" I find myself saying over and over as each of these new technology-disabled pseudo-autistics impedes my forward, backward or anyward progress (yes, the aphorism is a modification of J.R.R Tokien's axiom in The Fellowship of the Ring of "Short cuts make for long delays" -- if ye be wanting to know).
With the ever greater use of smart phones and tablets, particularly by the more self-involved generations, I foresee a day -- and it will be soon -- when the famed Shibuya scramble crossing fails to clear.