A seeing eye person for chronic texters
Guide helps the person text messaging walk down the street
June 6, 2013
How many times have you seen this scenario play out?
Someone is text messaging on their mobile while they walk down the street, eyes clamped to their phone.
They don’t notice where they’re going, and they very nearly get run over when they absently try to cross the street without looking up.
Some call it the texting zombie walk. It’s a dangerous condition.
Now there’s a cure.
Recently a group took to the streets of Manhattan to offer assistance to texting zombie walkers. They called themselves Seeing Eye People and wore orange vests with writing that said, “I can help you walk and text.”
They approached people who were texting and walking (there were many to choose from) and offered them a leash that was attached to their vest.
The texter grabbed the leash and continued to type away on his phone. The Seeing Eye People cleared a path for the texter so that he did not bump into anyone. The guides also stopped at busy streets so the texters did not get run over.
The fun alternative media stunt was carried out by Improv Everywhere, a New York City-based group of pranksters dedicated to causing chaos and joy in public places.
They carry out a crazy mission once every month or so, drawing attention to their group and their cause. For the Seeing Eye People stunt, the group partnered with Buzzfeed, a site that showcases viral and other interesting web content.
The prank called attention to what’s actually become a serious problem. A recent study for the journal Injury Prevention found that people who text while they walk are four times less likely than the average pedestrian to look before crossing, obey traffic lights or cross at the appropriate place.
One New Jersey town even banned texting while walking last year after it was blamed for three fatalities.
Sixty people participated in the Improv Everywhere project on April 14. Half were dressed in the orange vests and claimed to work for the Department of Transportation.
The other half were posing as texters being led around by the DoT workers. Later in the day the faux workers approached non-Improv Everywhere texters and offered to lead them around as well.
The stunt worked because it offered a tongue-in-cheek solution to something that’s a real problem. Everyone who’s walked a city street knows how irritating it is to get bumped into by someone who won’t even bother to look up from her phone.
The Seeing Eye People may have even helped chronic texters realize how annoying their problem is with the over-the-top stunt.
It got results, too. A story about the Seeing Eye People on Buzzfeed received more than 1,200 Facebook “likes” and was tweeted hundreds of times.
And a video posted on YouTube by Improv Everywhere has been viewed more than 1.2 million times.
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