The addition of a texting lane at Utah Valley University ensures students can stay glued to their phones on the walk between classes, fending off the fear of missing out and possibly avoiding injuries.
Divided into three lanes — walking, running, and texting — a stairway in Utah Valley University’s Student Life & Wellness Center has gone viral. Receiving local, national, and international attention, this stairway will allow students to stay fixed on their mobile devices without the fear of bumping into anyone. Though for Matt Bambrough, UVU’s creative director, function and safety was not necessarily the reason for the addition.
“It’s the nature of the world we live in,” said Bambrough about how students use their phones while walking. “But that isn’t the reason we did it — we used that fact to engage our students, to catch their attention and to let them know we are aware of who they are and where they’re coming from. The design was meant for people to laugh at rather than a real attempt to direct traffic flow.”
While intended to be humorous, the addition of a texting lane is a response to a much more serious phenomenon in the interconnected world we live in today. Many suffer from the “fear of missing out,” otherwise known as “FOMO,” which can be characterized as the desire to stay continually connected with others. Not being in the know with the current happenings on social media can lead to great social angst. This leads to a great attachment to phones, and this week Snapchat CEO Evan Epiegel detailed how instant expression has changed how society conceives identity, further showing how the digital age has made a great impact on our lives in ways we may not expect.
Walking while texting also brings safety concerns. Europe PubMed Central detailed the rise of emergency room visits by people walking and using a cellphone. A nonprofit safety advocacy group, National Safety Council, also released a report Wednesday estimating that 11,101 pedestrians were injured while walking using their cellphones between 2000 and 2011.
Photo: Photo of stairs in UVU’s Student Life & Wellness Center. Courtesy of UVU.