What’s The Most Inappropriate Gadget You Use While Walking?

What’s The Most Inappropriate Gadget You Use While Walking?

The indomitable rise of portable computing has led to a uniquely 21st century phenomena: people blithely walking into potential mayhem while ogling their gadgets. Most of us are guilty of doing this — especially on smartphones — but on which gadget do you personally draw the line?

Tablet picture from Shutterstock

This morning, I narrowly avoided spectacular injury while descending a staircase at Circular Quay station. Someone had left a suitcase on the second-top stair which I promptly tripped over (luckily, I have a cat-like ability to stay upright during a fall which saved me from a trip to the hospital).

The reason I didn’t see the suitcase is kind of embarrassing: I was simultaneously typing a story out on my laptop. Clearly, I’ve taken the whole ‘mobile productivity’ thing too far.

The trick to doing this is to type one-handed while balancing the laptop on your palm. It’s surprisingly intuitive, but the drawback is that you can’t see where you’re going. Plus, I suspect that many passers-by have an overwhelming urge to punch me in the face. C’est la vie.

Anyway, my close brush with death made me wonder whether anyone else is guilty of typing-while-walking. Have you ever attempted to use your laptop on the hoof? How about ebooks or tablets? Do you consciously come to a halt when sending a text message or do you continue to walk in a vaguely straight line?

We’d also like to hear from anti-gadget roamers. What is it about this habit that annoys you so much? After all, it’s only our own lives that we’re putting in danger. Is it really too much to ask that you step aside if we don’t see you? Share you thoughts in the comments section below.


  • Sounds like a new addition to “Dumb Ways to Die”… “Fall down the stairs when you trip, ‘cos you’re typing.”

  • Your laptop must be heavy. I can hold mine by the left side of the display and type with my right hand on the go!

  • Not sure exactly where the line is, there are definitely grey areas. Navigating stairs, in a busy station, while using a laptop with both hands is pretty easy to classify

  • It doesn’t matter what gadget you’re using, if you’re not paying attention it’s a problem. And it’s not only your lives you put in danger, if you step in front of a vehicle or trip and fall into someone else.

    As a cyclist I’ve had plenty of people step out onto the road in front of me without even looking (sometimes even with their back to me, the oncoming traffic). Most of these people are texting or talking on their phones, and many again are so oblivious that if I yell at them as I stop or swerve they barely respond. And no, I’m not exaggerating.

    Granted, I’m guessing if you’re on a tablet or a laptop you might not step on the road, but here we have plenty of bike lanes with little to distinguish them apart from the markings that you wouldn’t be able to see. And there are cyclists who don’t ride slow enough to stop.

    Nothing is that urgent.

  • “What’s The Most Inappropriate Gadget You Use While Walking?”

    Someone please say wheelchair. 😛

  • C’est la vie, have your leaves all turned to brown? Have you fallen down the stairs again….C’est la vie.

  • Funny thing – only yesterday I was listening to a podcast of Download This Show where Gizmodo’s own @lukehopewell was discussing this very topic, and he admitted to having tripped on the stairs at the train station just that morning while reading an email on his phone. 😀

    @dannyallen You should organise some “How to walk down stairs” training for your team, otherwise it looks like Allure is in for sime major sick leave 😛

  • Recent news- A young Lady died in an lift while too focusing on her mobile phone. The lift by mistake stopped between two levels and the door opened. The girl didn’t even look up before step up. The door closed while she was in the middle. The lift went down and she was cut into two pieces – horrible scene like in Final Destination。

  • I work in a university and constantly weave through hordes of slow moving zombies aka students on their smartphones. Apple have continually ignored my suggestion that iPhones should have a top mounted camera that projects an image of whats in front of you onto your screen while you are texting.

    Of course I have never been guilty of reading a twitter feed while walking through a crowded area.

    • You can download an application on android that does this, shows what’s in front behind your text messaging.

      • yeah, the floor… no one texts while walking bolt upright.

        to make that work proprely, you’d need a periscope or something…

  • Where’s the rage against this behaviour?

    Such selfish, obnoxious conduct is a significant contributor to the unpleasantness of commuting.
    There are a variety of irritations to endure – ranging from poor personal hygiene to willful obstruction – but it’s the increasing trend of gadget users considering their little world more important than everyone else which is top of the list right now.

    Transport hubs used to be places where the vast majority of people simply went from A to B, aware of their surroundings and conscious of the need not to interfere or obstruct fellow travellers doing the same.
    When did this “ask that you step aside” attitude become aceptable?
    You’re so arrogantly self-absorbed that you don’t even feel the need to look where you’re going yet everyone ahead of you needs to take evasive action and everyone behind you tolerate your dawdling?

    Gadget zombies are a significant impediment to effective use of any public facility and should be treated with contempt.

    This sounds like something of a rant but the anti-social behaviours described need to be called out.

  • I think a dildo might be a little more inappropriate and potentially more dangerous also.

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