people looking into their phones, completely unaware of surroundings

Why Do People Always Look At Their Cell Phone?

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 ]


  1. Mindless easily entertained sheep that rely on a device to control their lives. Hopefully there will be a great culling very, very soon and in a couple of years people will sit around and laugh about “remember those silly phones everyone walked around staring at? I sure am glad they’re gone”. The most destructive invention in human history is the microprocessing chip as it has made possible the complete and total dumbing down of humans.

    1. pretty soon maybe have to use an app on these phones to talk russian or chinese or both.

  2. i have always said that the cellphone was the end of western civilization. people are so distracted by the things that they have no idea what is going on around them. on the road, even walking around in a public place.
    a person at one time could ride a motorcycle at their leisure, not anymore. i still have my old one but it’s nerve wracking to see a person at a hwy crossing looking down, you know what they are looking at. it’s bad enough in a truck. when i see that i am already planning my exit rout to go around them, if possible.
    i had an old ATT flip phone for years and it did everything that i wanted it to do, make a phone call. they cut 3g and now i have a smart phone that won’t even fit in my damn pocket. i’m not happy. cheapest one they had. i cut ATT.

    1. Scout,
      Same here. I kept a Tracfone flip phone in my truck for emergencies but they said I needed a new one due to the 3g thing and they sent a glass phone that is as big as a flattened out mason jar.

      Cellphones show the degradation of man……

      3100bc Egyptians used Hieroglyphics to communicate with symbols
      1836 Telegraph invented and people could communicate by sending messages via letters
      1876. Telephone invented so people could communicate by voice
      1975 Cellphone invented so people could communicate by voice without being connected to a landline
      1992 Texting invented so people could communicate by sending messages via letters (see 1836)
      2010 Emojis invented so people could communicate with symbols (see 3100bc)

      Humanity is on the downhill slide and we will be ushering in a new dark age (void of knowledge) very soon.

      1. Romeo Charlie,
        what ever happened to just talking to people face to face.
        i fear it’s becoming a lost art.
        had a good neighbor here a little while ago, a good visit.

        1. Scout,
          I think your right. A friend of mine dropped by this afternoon while I was working in the garden. He wanted to see the trees I had cut for him (instead of asking me to send a picture) and just “chew the fat”. Thankfully we grew up in a different world than the nightmare they are wanting to create for themselves nowadays.

    2. scout
      Same here. Used to have a perfectly good 3g flip phone. Now… Hurmph!!!

  3. The step grandson still uses his phone GPS to get home……….he has been coming here since he was a toddler. I asked him what exit he should use to take our road home. Could not even tell me the name of the exit. He said well it is the way we ‘young’ people do it. sigh,,,
    said Look you are telling me that if shtf and the phone system went down you would not be able to find your way home… Think about that. So now he can at least ID the exit name. If he can wind his way on the roads here without GPS is another issue. Picture a lot of wondering around young folks not knowing where the hell they are…… if shtf
    Evil, evil wants to divide humans into a single entity and be less human towards each other. The computers can actually absorb our humanity from us. I do not mean to become human of course, but to change our energy forces in us. Change brain waves etc…………

  4. There may be another use for that phone.

    In a blog post on Wednesday, Emma Williams, corporate VP of modern work transformation at Microsoft, announced that the walkie-talkie ability in Teams is now available “on all iOS mobile devices, such as iPhones and iPads, in addition to Android mobile devices.”

    I have not looked into this but will soon with a neighbor. My intention is to see if this would work without going through a cell network.

    1. hermit us,

      I believe those “apps” have been available for a while now (as I recall, you have to pay to download it). Supposedly it allows direct phone to phone voice and text capability (if both phones have the app downloaded) but distances are limited to about that of lower powered GMRS walkie talkies.

      Maybe they have something better now. If you find out, let us know.

    2. I still have that walkie-talkie (direct connect) button on my old Nextel phone,, flip of course!

  5. Maybe someone should create an Incoming Missle AP so we will all know when to kiss our A$$3$ goodbye.

  6. I wish we still had the up vote option! This is all so true! We’ve been vacationing with friends at a family cabin for over 15 years. For the first 10 years, there was no cell service. When a cell tower went up that provided some limited connection, my DH and his best friend laughed about taking it down. For a couple of years, we teased the couple of friends who would sit around the campfire poking at their phones. The last two years I was the only one sitting around the campfire looking around watching everyone else – DH included – poking at their phones. Social media and games. I am wanting to explore the walkie talkie options as well as something I read about creating a local mesh net I believe it was called. Maybe the box of old cellphones will have a use providing connections between buildings at our new locale. DH is “retiring” at the end of the month and says he’s done with being attached to a phone. We’ll see….

  7. that is something i have always noticed and wondered. i myself try not to be doing that, i try to constantly be aware of my surroundings. too much going on in this world around you to be glued to the screen of the iphone 24/7.

  8. The Zello app is free and works sort of like a walkie talkie, but goes much farther. I’ve used it a couple of times to test with a group but I couldn’t explain it to you all.

  9. Phones provide a huge dopamine dump into the brain. Every time you look at your phone, refresh a page, click on a link, etc. you feel a little reward.

    1. Newspapers didn’t record everything you said….. location and spy on your family…….

    2. and you mostly had to keep your opinion to yourself or a close friend/relative and not stir up the atmosphere with irrelevant tweets. Thats my opinion anyway😏

  10. i have never had a smart phone until 2 weeks ago. i understand about the ability to track someone. but last week the battery in my truck went belly up in town and i used google maps to get a phone number to a business. when i pulled it up it showed a map of the whole united states. is GPS enabled on this thing? i hope not

  11. I have no idea, I still use a flip phone.. I have seen people sitting next to each other texting instead of talking. When people send me a text, I call them and tell them if they need to communicate with me to call me because I don’t text. It is quite humorous how this aggravates so many people. Then the remarks of get with the program, get out of the dark age, time to join modern society occurs. I just smile and say I just stopped using smoke signals so be thankful I have a phone.

    1. Wolfgar
      Until I decided to change carriers, my family all laughed at my antiquated flip phone(s). Took forever for me to reply so they would text me, and I would call them back. Same thing if you want to get ahold of me–call. I happen to love my ‘cave woman’ flip phone. Although I have another modern phone for calls & texting, majority of it is still calls. I was told next time they will buy me a brick with the numbers painted on it. Said as long as I can call you… fine. Works for me.

Comments are closed.