It was a day like any other. I had gone shopping at a local supermarket with a friend. While I was walking back with her to the car, I received a text. I am not usually in the habit of reaching to read or answer a text while I am walking, and I never use my phone while driving. This time, however, I reached into my bag and pulled out the phone. Pulling out the phone only served to make me want to see the message. Seeing the message only made me want to respond to it. Before I knew it, I was walking into a parked car! When I looked up, I saw my friend shaking her head and laughing,
"It has finally happened," I said in frustration. "I've become one of them! You know...those people I complain about who don't have a clue what is going on in the world outside of their smartphone."
She nodded and we continued on our way, but it got me to really think about how to combat this problem. What I discovered was that it was not something to stop, as much as it was something that needed to be controlled. Below are some of the ways I have applied this regarding my own texting. Though they are personal suggestions, I can attest to how helpful they have been with diligence and practice.
1. Program your smartphone rather than have your smartphone program you. Turn the sound off on your phone when you are out and about. If you find this is not feasible for you, then make a practice of not deferring to your phone every single time it makes a sound.
2. Don't reply immediately to a text if your words are longer than a sentence. This is slow progress, but worth it in the long run because it will prevent accidents and misunderstandings. Remember that many times when we rush to answer a text it is with the haste of words squeezing through autocorrect and making a mess of your conversation.
3. If you still insist on typing/texting while walking, pick up an app that helps you text while walking. There are many to choose from and they allow you to type and still see where you are going.
Regardless of what method you choose, it's important to keep conversations via smartphones in perspective. A text used to be a form of immediate conversation, but it has now become a form of immediate email. Between the real email streaming across our computers and the texts that demand our responses, we are not looking up at all to view our surroundings, let alone to understand the big picture. That is something we need to do because there is a whole world to see that is happening beyond the screen you focus on.