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Number’s up for phone smombies

We are, apparently, in danger of turning into a nation of smombies.

If you’ve never heard of the word (no, me neither) smombies are smartphone zombies, otherwise known as those incredibly annoying people who insist on checking their mobiles while walking along.

An email, a text, a Facebook post, a Tweet – all need checking immediately, if you are a smombie. Nothing in life is more important.

Well, let me tell you, Mr or Mrs Smombie - NOBODY ELSE LIKES YOU.

We are fed up with having to shuffle behind you as you saunter along the pavement, lost in your own little world of stuff.

Admittedly, there are going to be times when you really do need to check those messages, when they really are a matter of life or death.

But if that message genuinely is that important, you will take the time to stand to one side, get out of other people’s way and give that message the attention it deserves. If you need to rush off, you can then put your phone away and walk quickly, with your head up and able to see everything that’s going on around you.

Wanting to know what your best mate had for breakfast, or whether they ‘like’ the latest hilarious photograph of someone putting a cat on a skateboard can wait until you have the time to sit down.

And if you have headphones on at the same time, that’s even worse.

I spend a fair amount of time in London and can’t begin to tell you the number of times I’ve fallen victim to a smombie.

You try to say ‘excuse me’ so you can pass them politely, but they can’t hear you because they’re plugged into their music.

Roseanna Austen sent abusive messages to former neighbours. Picture: Thinkstock Image Library
Roseanna Austen sent abusive messages to former neighbours. Picture: Thinkstock Image Library

Tap them on the shoulder, and you get ‘the glare’. I mean, how dare I try to walk quicker than you when you’re checking the football scores. Or better still, trying to read the match report for the game you’ve just spent 90 minutes watching.

Not only do they irritate the rest of us, but they are putting themselves in danger whenever they step out into the road in front of some poor unsuspecting driver or cyclist.

Things are getting so bad, some are calling for a law to criminalise pedestrians who cause serious accidents while on their phones. In the same way drivers on mobiles are penalised (and don’t get me started on those), they think walkers should face similar penalties.

In Belgium and China, white lines have been painted to create ‘smombie lanes’ so people can dawdle along on their phones leaving the rest of the path clear for the rest of us.

A solution? Maybe. I’m not against smartphones, or keeping in touch, but there’s a real danger people will get lost in their virtual worlds, and forget to look up and see what’s going on around them in the real one. And it’s so much more worthwhile.


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