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What will we think of coming up with next? An exclusive lane for text-loving motorists on highways?



Published: Sun 21 Jun 2015, 10:14 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 2:51 PM

Let’s tread carefully here. You use your fingers for texting on your smartphone and your feet for walking on terra ferma. But you could lose coordination in the head and bump into someone you don’t wish to meet if you do both at the same time. Yes, you could trip and fall, if you take another step.

The Utah Valley University in the United States, in all its foolish wisdom, has created text-only lanes on its steps for students who love to look their gadgets in the eye – the kind who do not wish to make any eye contact with fellow Homo sapiens.

Bright green lanes on the way to the wellness centre separate the texters from the walkers and runners. Before we wade, or walk into this debate, here’s a question: why create a new lane for people who do not wish to look straight, forget about looking others in the eye?

The report said the university doesn’t want to discourage smartphone use by 30,000 of its students; it wants to get them laughing. In the same breath, it said the new lane is to ‘engage’ students. That surely must be joke, or why else did officials withdraw a press release issued earlier?

Jokes aside, seats of learning like this Utah university should think of other saner ways to engage students — like encouraging them to look where they are going and facing the realities of life. That’s engagement even in the age of WhatsApp and social media.

The university is not the first to introduce texting lanes, Antwerp in Belgium and the Chinese city of Chongqing have chosen such blind alleys in the past with limited success.

But nothing beats the Utah university’s attempt at improved stairway mobility for texters.

What will we think of coming up with next? An exclusive lane for text-loving motorists on highways?


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