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Text and walk, rot in jail

Approx Reading Time-10A US congresswoman has drafted a bill where text-walking would be punished by a stint in Jail. But would you support it here?


Early last century, as motor car mobiles started to populate the roads, the concept (and laws) of jaywalking took root. Suddenly, those hep cats and flappers in the ’20s couldn’t cross just anywhere to get to the nearest speakeasy. Despite the obvious danger, there was a sea of raucous complaint from those who had their freedoms impinged, by the government taking control of their personal safety. Despite the dire PSA of the day, which claimed that “Hell is paved with good intentions, but why crowd the place? Don’t jaywalk,” the law was seldom obeyed or taken seriously, until prosecuted by it.

Now, some 90 years later, history is doomed to repeat itself through our enamourment with new-fangled technology.

I’m referring to text-walking. The act of texting and walking.

Smartphone users of the world (read: all of us) are the victims of a well-known, yet ignored societal danger. It is a killer that spares none, and claims all. Be it from everyday etiquette toe-stepping, all the way to falling in front of a speeding train.

Academics in the US have cemented their tenure with a study performed in 2010, estimating the amount of ‘Muricans injured whilst being tantalised by the electronic Devil was around two million annually. A contemporary study has the figure tippling over eight million.

So how do you solve a problem like Maria? To combat the dangers reaped from our text-first, collision-later society, the world has reacted with abject insanity.

The fair citizens of Antwerp (it’s in Belgium), perhaps referencing the Autobahn, have installed “text-walking lanes,” which in reality, are a painted corridor on the pebbles, into which smart phone users are shepherded while the rest of the populace can windowshop the boulangerie’s without fear of injury. Keep left unless texting.

The Japanese have opted for a subtler approach, with a black and white fable that extols the dangers of text-walking, because ninjas:

All of these actions have eventually trickled down to hardball, industrial legislation. A New Jersey assemblywoman has drafted a bill where smartphone usage whilst moving in a forwardly direction would be classified a prosecutable offence.

Substitute “dangerous driving” with “distracted walking.”

And what’s the penalty? A slap on the wrist? Initially, but keep at it, Sonny-Jim, and the end of the line is the end of the line.

Jail. The big house. 99 years in the Folsom Pen.

Well, 15 days. But, still. Convicted of wanton use of an Apple. That’d get you respect in the yard.

“What you in for?”

“Um. I was retweeting bae’s subtweet and yeah. You?”

“Filtering and jogging.”

Fifteen days in prison without a phone. It’s enough to make you go:

Text fish! Text fish! Text fish!

Are not the prisons full enough already within the US?

Which brings me to the grandest floating prison of all. Our grand nation. As our white history scribes, we have a proud penal past, and as a result, our tradition is ingrained with breaking the law. It’s in our blood, girt by seethe. There’s nothing more we loathe than a stupid law backed by pointless bureaucracy. Calling an Android an Android, this smacks of that.

But here at TBS we’re curious, if such a bill was to reach our fair shores would you support, nay follow such a law?

Is text-walking a legitimate issue, and a stringent law merely safeguarding us from ourselves, as jaywalking was way back then? Or is it a vacuous money-spinner with no real-world application, as jaywalking is now?

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