Traffic lights on ground for smartphone users – Dumbing Down

traffic lights ground smartphone users

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Dumbing down is an ongoing series in which we highlight new trends or innovations in the world, which signal our decline as a species. Today: traffic lights on the ground for smartphone users.

Do you ever have one of those days where you’re heading to work, and realize most people around you are disconnected from their surroundings, connected to the digital world displayed on their phone instead? That was last Friday to us, and it’s something we’ve become more and more aware of. It’s no surprise that countries such as Netherlands and Germany have started installing traffic lights on the ground to prevent distracted phone users from dying in accidents. But how exactly did we get to this point?

Since we’re now in our early 30s, here are the different phases of phone usage that we remember:

  1. Childhood-early teens: the phone was the annoying device in the living room that would ring and prevent our parents from paying attention to us for 30 minutes – 1 hour.
  2. Late teens – early 20s: the portable cellphone made it possible to be in a constant texting chain, and easy to call people instantaneously, but for several things other devices were needed. For cyber-stalking on social media you had to log onto your computer, to listen to music you had an MP3 player, and to watch TV you used… uh, a TV.
  3. Mid 20s – Now: enter the smartphone. Every distraction is available on one device, and people are moving away from desktop to phone more than ever.

We are not exempt from blame, as we usually walk the streets listening to music through our headphones, but we do feel we’re on the low-end of phone usage compared to some others. Currently we are living in Stockholm, where people are obsessed with seeming busy. That’s the contradiction of Stockholm, it’s one of the more placid capitals we’ve lived in, yet its inhabitants act as if there’s a rapid pace that forces them to constantly multitask.

Yes, we’re going on a tangent here, but it’s fucking annoying when you’re in a supermarket, pause because you think someone is yelling at you, only to realize it’s someone combining a phone conversation with shopping. In this current age, people are obsessed with being connected, to the point they don’t seem to be able to be alone anymore.

So what can we do about this a society? Not much apparently, as countries have begun realizing this trend will not change, and started implementing ways to prevent addicted smartphone users from accidentally killing themselves.

That’s where the traffic lights pictured above come in. To make sure those glued to their phone screens don’t wander into traffic, killing themselves and others, lights are now visible on the ground to tell them to stop. The first we heard of this in Europe was in Germany, where in 2016 lights were installed at two tram stops in Augsburg. These lights flash when the light is red, or when a tram is approaching.

Bodegraven in the Netherlands was the next town to follow, by placing traffic lights in the pavement.

How are you feeling about this? Do you think we’re overreacting and this is an expected innovation? Do you know of any other countries where such a solution exists?

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