Why Do People Always Look At Their Cell Phone?

people looking into their phones, completely unaware of surroundings

People engaged with their cell phone. They’re in their own little world. Zoned out. Completely ignoring what is going on around them. People looking at their phones. Everywhere you look. Oblivious to potential danger.

In fact, this complete lack of situational awareness can even kill you, like it did to this young man…

Security video footage from a crowded San Francisco commuter train showed the gunman pull out the .45-caliber pistol, raise it and point it across the aisle…The man drew the gun several more times and once wiped his nose with the hand holding the weapon.

The District Attorney said regarding the security video,

“These weren’t concealed movements — the gun is very clear,”

“These people are in very close proximity with him, and nobody sees this!”

“They’re just so engrossed, texting and reading and whatnot. They’re completely oblivious of their surroundings.”

The murderer was looking for a victim, and while waving his gun on the train he randomly chose his target who was was exiting the train and shot him in the back of the head.

This occurred during September of 2013.

People Looking At Their Phones

During a previous career, I spent a number of years commuting into a major city and would at times take the train. While observing others, I was always amazed at the complete and utter lack of situational awareness by seemingly 99% of the commuters. It was astonishing to me.

Everyone with their head down, mostly people looking at their phones. All the time. Consequently, they always looked like zombies to me. Whereas I would sometimes read on the train, I would look up, look around on occasion. Watch the world go by out a window. The others? They’re glued to their screens.

People who pay too much attention to their phones are also vulnerable to theft. “Oftentimes when you interview people who get their phone stolen, when you ask them to describe where the person came from, what he was wearing, they have no idea,” said a police Chief discussing the issue.

One study found that almost half of all pedestrians exhibited dangerous behavior crossing the street while on their phone. They didn’t look both ways, they forced a car to stop suddenly or swerve, or they bumped into something.

Since 2004, the number of pedestrians hit and checked into emergency rooms has tripled nationwide because they were distracted by a cell phone.

Approximately 23% of auto collisions involved a cell phone.

With all the types of distracted driving activities, text messaging makes a crash up to 23 times more likely.

It’s not safe to lose situational awareness. Burying your head in a smart phone while either driving or otherwise, can be a recipe for disaster.

It seems that no matter where you are, no matter the environment (inside or outside), no matter the place, there are lots and lots of people who are looking at their phones. In their own little bubble. Oblivious.

It’s automatic. Instinctive. A spare moment? Gotta check the phone. Come up to the red light? Time to check the phone. Feeling insecure that there’s a world out there? Time to check the phone. Here a ‘ding’ from the device during a conversation? Time to be rude and immediately check it.

Maybe some people just aren’t comfortable with themselves or the world around them while out and about. Perhaps afraid to look around and take it all in, or afraid of looking someone else in the eye. Or worse yet… to be conversational – to have to speak! (texting is so much better, right?)

Someone here on the blog said, “Young professionals walking head down looking at their I-phones. They never look either direction before walking into the street. They seem to put total faith that a driver will see and yield to them even when they walk against the light. I was always amazed that more pedestrians didn’t get flattened.”

Another one said, “These people have NO social skills or personality. So they cradle and idolize these devices to give their small insignificant lives value, meaning and definition.”

Still another said, “Every time i go out, everyone walking along the street, heads down, on their phone. They don’t care who they bump into, they’re non-apologetic, selfish people. They may as well live inside their phones, they are obviously not living in the real outside world. May as well stay at home just looking at their phones. Nothing outside is important to them.”

It seems to me that it’s a sort of addiction. I myself have an i-phone. It is a useful tool for me, as well as a communication device (calling, texting, email). However, I’m not on it every second of the day. Or while socializing with others.

Remember these two words, SITUATIONAL AWARENESS.

Learn to enjoy your surroundings. Look around when walking – no matter where you are. See, hear, and experience the REAL world around you.

Mission Darkness – Cell Phone Faraday Bag
(Made in USA storefront on amzn)

[ Read: Situational Awareness and a 360-degree Mindset ]