Loyal phone drones, it’s time to look up from the beguiling blue glow of your screens and pay attention to your surroundings. You, pausing at the top of the Arts Tunnel staircase, and you, shuffling up the Arts Ramp while scrolling listlessly with your thumb — look up!
At peak hours, you can find yourself surrounded by hundreds of students trying to weave and push their way to their next classes. Thanks to the polar vortex at the end of January, more and more bodies are trying to cram their way into the tunnels and halls on campus to avoid the bitter cold outside.
This influx of traffic tends to cause a backlog of bodies, forcing us to claw our way to our destinations, yet there are still some that continue to shuffle mindlessly and impede the flow of foot traffic.
At a meager five feet and four and a half inches, I can quickly get lost in the towering crowd of people who have grown above the so-called average height. A shorter stature naturally begets short legs, and as expected, stunted limbs cover less ground per stride than others.
And yet, I find myself blasting past those mindless tunnel dwellers — the ones with their necks unnaturally hinged downwards towards their phones and the seductive glare their screens produce.
I can’t think of anything quite as infuriating as being stuck behind another human — or my personal favourite, a wall of humans — when you have to be on the other side of campus in a matter of minutes. If such a thing as purgatory were to exist, this would be it.
Dodging bodies and passing people in the tunnels is always a gamble. Rushing through the barricade-filled skywalk of the Agriculture Building, one quick miscalculation of space and speed may end in tragedy. Shout-out to the girl who ran into my overloaded messenger bag attempting a pass — a move which sent her phone skittering across the floor.
Now, I know that we are all bonded nearly permanently to our phones. We are switched on, plugged in and ready to answer each and every notification buzzing in our pockets. We don’t want to miss anything.
I, too, am guilty of pulling out my phone while I’m on the move to check a quick notification, skip a song, or more commonly, to check the time while I am stuck behind someone shuffling along with their nose to their screen.
We all do it. That quick glance down to type a brief text, giving you mild whiplash as you look up and down from what’s in front of you to what’s on your screen. We are busy. I’m busy. I understand. It is not you that I’m calling out.
It’s those of us who have completely forgotten that they aren’t alone, as if they were wandering through a deserted Arts Tunnel after some ugly apocalyptic event. Consider this an open letter to all of those who stop in the middle of a flowing herd of bodies to pay close attention to what’s on their devices.
The only way for tunnel traffic to work is if everyone is aware of the poor souls around them. And honestly, I am not sure how there haven’t been more people trampled underfoot or crushed by the unrelenting surge of bodies.
So look up once in a while, okay? Be cognizant of others, or don’t be surprised when someone steps on your heels. Challenge yourself to notice things around you — you could be missing out on something amazing with your eyes cast downwards all the time. And at the very least, you will be able to see the body careening towards you.
Erin Matthews / Opinions Editor
Photo: Riley Deacon / Photo Editor