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We are what we think & my blog entries reflect how I think. Have a sip of the poison of my mind.. It's not always lethal.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

低头族: Escalator Hoggers

'低头族' literally means 'Clan of the lowered heads' and it comically refers to folks who seemingly have their eyes constantly glued to the screens of their smartphones or tablets at every available opportunity during most of their waking moments. '低头族' is just a more polite way of describing someone as a 'smartphone addict'.

Especially since the advent of social drama-- media like --Fakebook Facebook, more and more peeps now have a lowered angle field of vision focused on their smart devices. If you are in the train or in a bus, just steal peeks at what the folks around you are looking at on their smart devices and chances are, besides the gamers, texters and video junkies, you will probably see that most of them are looking at their Facebook feeds.

Be it social media, texting or doing whatever else on smartphones, I'm sure we've all heard about or probably even seen just how some people got themselves or others into trouble or a world of hurt; because their awareness of the immediate surroundings outside of their funneled attention focused on the screens of their devices became cursory, diluted and peripheral. Results can range between comical or downright catastrophic in intensity. And no, fatal accidents are not solely confined to just within Japan alone while the rest of the world is immune, of course.

It ain't worth a rat's arse getting yourself or others hurt because of a smartphone, if you ask me, and that's coming from a geek who loves his gadgets. Remembering to remind oneself that one is a living breathing human first and foremost before being a geek can be challenging in modern times when mobile technology is so awesome and makes life so much more productive and convenient at your fingertips (if you know how to make use of your device's tech to its full potential, that is. Not everyone with a smartphone actually knows what they are doing).

Mobile tech rocks but sadly, we've also reached the point where we need to retrain ourselves to look up and forward from our gadgets, especially in places where our own safety as well as the safety of others around us depend on our awareness of what's around us. One of these places, in my opinion and experience, is when we are on moving escalators. It doesn't matter if we are going downwards or upwards, what I'm gonna talk about next applies to both directions.

At the escalator
Earlier this morning, I was taking the escalator at the train station up towards the train platform and just in front of me was this hip-looking lady rocking a Galaxy S6 Edge. Since I got on the escalator a couple of paces just behind her, I kept an unoccupied escalator step between me and her. I could afford the space because it was just past the morning peak hours and it wasn't that crowded. I always leave space between me and the person in front of me whenever I'm on the escalator if the situation allows me to. Good thing I did as you shall find out later.

Miss Hip had her eyes glued to her S6 Edge as she was riding up the escalator and that's understandable, considering how gorgeous the screen display of the S6 Edge is, yeah? 577 ppi pixel density packs some serious eye candy. It's just too bad that her admiration for that screen won't be able to last her that long through the day without her having to run to the charger because the sealed-in 2600 mAh battery sucks donkey balls.

Sorry, I couldn't resist taking a jibe at Samsung there who has decided to abandon practical and useful features and gone whoring itself on the iBandwagon.

Miss Hip's eyes were still glued to her Edge's screen when she reached the top of the escalator. So she stepped off the moving escalator (eyes still on her screen) while I was still being moved forward heading straight towards her back. What happened next makes me glad that I left an unoccupied escalator step between me and her and had the space in-between us.

You see, when she stepped off the escalator, her head was still bowed with her eyes and attention still on her phone and her mind must have been totally preoccupied still with whatever was displayed on the screen of her phone - that's because she was walking at a snail's pace while I was moving at escalator speed right smack towards her.

It was a good thing that the escalator was wide enough and it was a doubly good thing there was a little space between me and her, because these factors combined afforded me enough time to react by side-stepping to the right, avoiding a direct collision with her. Still, it was a rather close call. If it wasn't for the fact that it was just past the morning peak hours, I probably wouldn't have had the luxuries of reaction time and escape space because the escalator would have been crowded otherwise.

Let's exercise our imagination: What would have happened if I collided straight onto Miss Hip? Moving escalator speed crashing onto snail's pace ought to result in quite a bump and jolt. Who should we blame if either one or both of us get hurt as a result or if she dropped her pretty but no stamina phone (jibe jibe) from the collision impact and the screen cracked?

If it had been a crowded situation, I think I would have been forced right onto Miss Hip anyway, considering the crowd behind me would have had no choice but push me forward due to the non-stop constant motion of the escalator. Then what, Miss Hip would shout 'molest' and get me into trouble with something I didn't even commit? Or if she should drop her phone and get her screen cracked, demand that I give her financial compensation so that not only could she replace her screen with a brand new one, but also to buy more portable battery chargers to function as electronic viagra for her S6 Edge with poor libido prowess? Jibe jibe jibe.

And what if she or me trips and the crowd behind us pile up and trip over us and people get physically hurt as a result? All these possibilities can happen just because somebody refuses to move away from the escalator at normal walking speed but instead, makes you start wondering whether she has her feet bound Qing dynasty-style and can only take minute baby steps. Turns out, it's the bloody smartphone.

Correction: It's the person using the smartphone and becoming oblivious to what's going on around.

Now you know how to create human dominoes in public and you heard it here first. All you need is a crowded escalator, a dose of selfishness and tossing your awareness of your surroundings away while your smartphone leads you by the nose with your head bowed as an acknowledgement of your slavery by your gadget, nevermind the tsunami of people crashing towards you from behind.

Look, I'm no angel myself and I've actually caught myself guilty of the same thing a couple of times in the past. Each time, I've chastised myself and since then, I've been making an effort to remind myself to either turn off the screen of my phone, or at least look away from it with eyes front and smartphone down before I step onto escalators and do the same thing again when I'm about to step off. I allow myself to take glances at my phone in-between since that's the part when I'm supposed to be stationary. Just watch out when you're nearing the escalator's end. It's not that difficult to train yourself to do that till it becomes a habitual thing.

There was actually another occassion a few years back when this dude in front of me on this crowded escalator did the same thing Miss Hip did. At the very last second, I had to do a half-jump to whatever pathetically diminutive space on the other side I could squeeze into to avoid a full-on collision with the dude, but I allowed myself to use my shoulder to bump into that dude while I made a loud and irritated "TSK!!" and I threw a pissed-off glance at him for good measure - for his own good.

It took a moment for the dude to break out of his smartphone-mesmerized state. When he finally 'woke up' with this stunned look on his face, he apologised and quickly got out of the way of the crowd piling up right behind him. I stole a glance on his smartphone's screen and saw that he was on Facebook. The zombie apocalypse is already upon us, didn't you know?

Stay smart, stay safe
So there you have it, don't let your smart device make you dumb and don't let yourself and others around you get hurt in any way, it's not worth it. It only costs you a few seconds to look away from your gadget at both ends of an escalator and those few seconds could save you from getting tripped, human wave-tsunamied or worse.. Oh, and you could also $ave your $martphone from getting dropped and damaged too.

Man, first world problems sure are problematic.

The phone we hold in our hands is supposed to be a smart device and we are all supposedly already living in a smart age, so the proper way to enjoy our smart techy toys is to use them in a human-smart way. So stay safe out there, watch your back and watch out for the zombies.

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