When Jeremy Berke decided to go iPhone-less for an entire week, he never expected to realize just how much people stare at their phones each day — even to the point of placing themselves and others in danger.
In a piece published by Business Insider, Berke explained his reasoning behind relinquishing his smartphone for seven straight days in a "daring experiment" and the conclusions he drew during that period of time.
"It was a big deal for me. I'm 23, and I've been attached to a cellphone since shortly after I started walking," Berke wrote. "The first thing I noticed that phoneless week was just how many people stare at their phones all day. I never noticed that before because I was looking at my phone, too."
Berke then went on to describe what a normal day for him — minus the iPhone, of course — while commuting in New York City during the morning rush on the subway was like.
"I felt like an alien, staring straight ahead at a series of bent necks and earbuds. The sounds of 'Candy Crush' — a popular phone game — filled the train car, and I couldn't even listen to music to drown it out," Berke said, before adding that once he had exited the subway, the elevator to his office proved to provide the same experience.
"As soon as the doors opened, all the screens came out," Berke recalled. "Out of sheer boredom, I tried to make small talk while waiting for the elevator. That's something I never do. Usually my phone is more interesting to me than other people."
But then Berke began to realize the "most startling" thing about the whole experience: "the realization that so many people look at their phones while they are walking."
"It felt a little dangerous, with so many people paying so little attention to where they are walking, not to mention the traffic streaming by them," Berke wrote. "We're really distracted by our screens."
Berke then went on to cite several scientific studies showing that people who walk while using their cell phones are 48 percent more likely to walk into oncoming traffic and that pedestrians suffered injuries because of their cell phone usage at a rate that more than doubled between 2004 and 2010. And Berke expressed his gratitude for safely learning these lessons after his most "daring experiment."
"So if I learned anything over my phoneless week, it's simply to look where I'm going when I'm walking. Besides, people-watching can be more fun than texting," Berke concluded.
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