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May 19, 2013 6:14 AM   Subscribe

Improv Everywhere: for our latest mission we posed as city workers providing a ridiculous solution to the “texting and walking” epidemic in New York.
posted by roomthreeseventeen (39 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
The town where I work banned texting while walking. I can't lie, I'm a little scared I might get a ticket someday.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:32 AM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I find a good solid shoulder-barge usually does the trick perfectly adequately.
posted by Decani at 6:32 AM on May 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


THIS is the target market for Google Glass.
posted by LogicalDash at 6:44 AM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Whilst I get the irony, and completely agree with the sentiment, I think most people won't.
posted by Diag at 7:11 AM on May 19, 2013


Doesn't take texting to make you go GRAR around here. It seems somehow the huge majority of my city-fellows suffer from some profound cognitive syndrome by which, once engaged in lively cellphone conversation, they lose all spatial sense and any ability of walking through public spaces in a sensible way. Sudden stops, pacing change, zigzagging around, turns and backturns, whatever you want. STICK TO A WALL AND KEEP STILL AND OUT OF THE WAY UNTIL YOU'RE DONE TALKING IF YOUR PEANUT BRAIN CAN'T HANDLE IT WHILE TRAVERSING A SIDEWALK, FOOLS.
posted by Iosephus at 7:23 AM on May 19, 2013 [14 favorites]


Whilst I get the irony, and completely agree with the sentiment, I think most people won't.

Why do you think everyone was laughing?
posted by vegartanipla at 7:31 AM on May 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


Pretty good sight gag.
posted by Optamystic at 7:37 AM on May 19, 2013


So, this happened last year near where I live, and because it was on the news most people in the area have heard of it. So I usually just mention 'the guy who walked into a bear' to folks texting and walking and that usually shows 'em.
posted by carsonb at 7:59 AM on May 19, 2013 [19 favorites]


I like how this is satirical and yet not vicious and negative. We NYers all hate people who text and walk and yet you're lying if you say you've never done it yourself.

Driving is another level, though.
posted by fungible at 8:05 AM on May 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Not too long ago a dude focused on texting fell off the metrorail platform in DC, a few seconds before a train entered the station.
posted by zennie at 8:37 AM on May 19, 2013


Carsonb, I'm using that as my next safety moment at work.
posted by arcticseal at 8:45 AM on May 19, 2013


The town where I work banned texting while walking.

Pretty sure they really just banned jaywalking: "As of now, [officers are] to give summonses to pedestrians who do not adhere to crosswalks and the lights."
posted by Sys Rq at 8:53 AM on May 19, 2013


Doesn't take texting to make you go GRAR around here. It seems somehow the huge majority of my city-fellows suffer from some profound cognitive syndrome by which, once engaged in lively cellphone conversation, they lose all spatial sense and any ability of walking through public spaces in a sensible way.

There have been studies supporting the notion that phone use while driving is roughly as impairing as driving while mildly intoxicated. The nature and expression of the impairment varying, but the overall effect being about the same. So it's easy to believe that walking about while even just gabbing and chattering on a phone is likewise the equivalent of walking around with a couple drinks in one, too.
posted by Drastic at 8:55 AM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


and yet you're lying if you say you've never done it yourself.

No, you're just older than, what, 30? Oh, and don't have kids.
posted by yoink at 9:00 AM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Staying on the dog theme, people to slap muzzles on people who insist on having LOUD blah-blah-blah fests in public places where people are trying to enjoy peace and quiet like bookstores and waterside benches.
posted by Twang at 9:08 AM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I love my smartphone & I hate everyone else's.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:16 AM on May 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm with Iospehus on this, though it can be amusing to see people lurching around, making sudden 270 turns or pivoting backwards on one leg, etc, simply because they are on the phone. Its a weird effect, and it does make me think using a phone in a car is much more distracting even than a couple of beers. I have seen someone take out a streetsign after failing to make an easy turn while using a mobile, which was a bit scary.
posted by biffa at 9:16 AM on May 19, 2013


you're lying if you say you've never done it yourself.

I've never done it in a crowd of fast-moving people but I've definitely done it alone on the sidewalk. My ire is saved for those who stop at the top of the train steps/escalator to check their phones during rush hour. Those people should be sent away to the spatial awareness gulags.
posted by elizardbits at 9:41 AM on May 19, 2013 [9 favorites]


I've stopped moving out of the way of people on the sidewalk who are texting and headed straight at me - I just take the charge, as they say in basketball. Great looks on the offenders' faces.
posted by twsf at 9:52 AM on May 19, 2013 [9 favorites]


My ire is saved for those who stop at the top of the train steps/escalator to check their phones during rush hour.

Oh, I don't care why you're stopping or when. Get out of the way. A lot of people in airports seem to think that stopping the very second they get off a moving sidewalk is a good idea. Tip: it isn't.

But I read while walking, which makes me as distracted as people on their phones.
posted by jeather at 9:57 AM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


If I were still single I would text and walk into cute girls who are texting and walking in the hopes of triggering some sort of hollywood story romance. Oh, why couldn't smart phones have been invented in my youth?
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:00 AM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Last week I saw a woman walking while texting. She tripped over a safety cone, regained her balance and kept walking, stopping only long enough to glare back angrily at the cone, as if thinking Who was the asshole who left that thing in the middle of the fucking sidewalk?!.

I was amused. I won't lie.
posted by spoobnooble II: electric bugaboo at 10:14 AM on May 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


80% of all multi-taskers believe that they are better than average
posted by ohshenandoah at 10:20 AM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


...once engaged in lively cellphone conversation, they lose all spatial sense and any ability of walking...

And this is why hands-free does not solve the driving-while-on-the-phone problem.
posted by DU at 11:05 AM on May 19, 2013


There's some sort of weird brain-lock that happens to a certain portion of the population when interacting with cell-phones. I personally don't get it, but I don't think the people whe suffer from this get it either. Which is to say, I don't think it's conscious.

I recently witnessed a woman ahead of me in line at a clothing store, who had an armload of clothes and was engaged in a phone conversation while waiting. When it was her turn to approach the register, she attempted to do so while still continuing her conversation. She ended up dropping most of the clothes on the floor, and then engaged in an inspired bit of physical comedy trying to pick clothes up off the floor, while talking on the phone. For every item she picked up, two more would drop. Despite her increasing frustration and obvious embarrassment, it was like it never occurred to her to just end the phone call. It wasn't until the cashier stepped back, threw up her hands and said "I'll just wait until you're ready, take your time" that the woman, came to her senses and got off the phone. She then spent the rest of the transaction embarrassed and apologizing profusely.

I've seen so many versions of this incident that I wonder if the problem isn't really the phone, but some sort of attention disorder or extreme extroversion that unconsciously prioritizes the social interaction of the call/text over whatever is in the immediate environment.
posted by billyfleetwood at 11:14 AM on May 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


unconsciously prioritizes the social interaction of the call/text over whatever is in the immediate environment.

This.
posted by MoTLD at 11:32 AM on May 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


There's some sort of weird brain-lock that happens to a certain portion of the population when interacting with cell-phones.

But, not you! Right?

The truth is that the devices are distracting to everyone. The rare flower who can do phone/text conversations at the same time as other activities to no effect is so rare as to be non-existent.

I recall a Chicago blogger who likes barking authoritatively at walking texters, "Eyes up!" Seems to catch them out.

Love improv everywhere. This is good.
posted by amanda at 12:36 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


unconsciously prioritizes the social interaction of the call/text over whatever is in the immediate environment.

If I am engaged with a person in conversation, in real life, and that person takes a call and just starts talking with somebody else on the phone, I just walk away, because....fuck you, that is just rude.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 12:53 PM on May 19, 2013 [8 favorites]


I've had some ... interesting ... conversations with customers who have had to end their phone calls while I'm serving them. Lots of people seem to think that because I work in customer service, it's magically OK to treat me like less than a human being. I've even had someone try to argue that point.
posted by Solomon at 2:58 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I actually got into a rather heated argument with someone quite a while back over whether or not the phrase was "customer service" or "customer servants". No amount of real-life citations would convince them that the latter was the incorrect (and hilariously fucking arrogant) version.
posted by elizardbits at 3:08 PM on May 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


If you'd like to have a fun day in NYC, just yell "look UP!" at anyone you see texting who is about to run into you. The look of total confusion, consternation and disorientation is delicious.
posted by nevercalm at 3:25 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've had some ... interesting ... conversations with customers who have had to end their phone calls while I'm serving them.

I once had a cashier near-tearfully thank me for telling the person on my phone 'I have to put you down- I'm at the counter.' You'd've thought it was a great act of humanitarianism rather than, y'know, basic human decency.
posted by winna at 3:42 PM on May 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think I first said on my blog about a decade ago how weird it was that nobody told us the future would be full of people walking around talking to themselves (in effect). Later it became clear that the future was also full of people walking transfixed by a little thing they were holding.

As to the interruption aspect, I know that back in the landline days it was considered all but absolutely necessary to at least say "I have to get this", or an equivalent. Somehow that became abbreviated to a nod or a finger -- and that's at the polite end of the scale.
posted by dhartung at 5:03 PM on May 19, 2013


The rare flower who can do phone/text conversations at the same time as other activities to no effect is so rare as to be non-existent.

Maybe, but there are lots of people out there who choose not to prioritize phone conversations over other public activities.
posted by sneebler at 5:12 PM on May 19, 2013


More than once:

Me: Hi, what can I get for you today?

Customer: [glares] I'm on the phone!

Me: [to next customer] Hi, what can I...

Customer #1: [still on call] Hey, I'm next!

I never once stabbed anyone. A miracle.
posted by rtha at 5:16 PM on May 19, 2013 [14 favorites]


fungible: "I like how this is satirical and yet not vicious and negative."

I love that about Improv Everywhere. They're people on a mission to bring humor and surprise to the world ... but without being jerks. I get the sense that they just like people.
posted by kristi at 5:48 PM on May 19, 2013


a few years ago, I saw a sign in an Irish Post Office, which said (paraphrasing): "We won't serve you if you are on the phone."
Loved it.
posted by dbmcd at 6:00 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just last month here in Montreal, a girl was texting as she tried to enter a metro car. She completely missed the door, fell between the cars onto the tracks, and was dragged by the train for two whole stations before anyone noticed. I never before thought death-by-texting would be a thing.
posted by vasi at 12:21 AM on May 20, 2013


Maybe, but there are lots of people out there who choose not to prioritize phone conversations over other public activities.

The issue isn't 'people who know how to manage their phone priorities by putting it away when dealing with other things like walking, driving, and interacting with real humans'. The issue is, in fact, the opposite of that - people who DON'T do that, and think they are somehow magically far more competent at multitasking and prioritizing than they really are. If you think you are more capable than most at driving / walking / whatever on the phone, well, there's a term for that.
posted by FatherDagon at 12:17 PM on May 20, 2013


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