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kuchikomi

What to do about mindless smartphone zombies?

45 Comments

"Pokemon Go will be the end of Japan!" screams the headline in Jitsuwa Bunka Tabuu (October). Okay, so Nintendo's share prices briefly shot up by 80% and the 2,900 McDonald's outlets where the cute characters could be hunted reported their year-on-year revenues up by 26.6%. Big deal.

Soon after the game's July 22 release in Japan, throngs of people staring at their smartphones could be seen flocking to such parks as Shinjuku Gyoen and Setagaya Koen in Tokyo and Tsuruma Koen in Nagoya's Showa Ward, to hunt "rare" Pokemon.

Such is the way of overnight fads that their manic appeal began tapering off after just one week. Even during that brief duration, however, some 100 motor vehicle and bicycle accidents (with two fatalities) attributed to Pokemon Go were reported nationwide.

It goes without saying that Pokemon Go requires players to engage in the act of so-called "aruki sumaho" (walking while looking at or operating a smartphone). It's dangerous. In a survey of actual users undertaken by Tsukuba University, 42% of mothers accompanying small children said they had the experience of bumping into someone while texting, and 47% of people over age 70 said they had been jostled by someone using a phone. The same experience was stated by 50% of wheelchair-bound individuals questioned in the survey.

Actually hardly a day goes by that the news doesn't report someone hospitalized after accidentally colliding with a glass window or disregarding the warning at a rail crossing and getting pulverized by a passing train.

Another dismaying statistic reported by railway companies was that over 20% of train delays in the Tokyo metropolitan area could be attributed to passengers at stations dropping their mobiles onto the tracks.

Unlike the "gara-kei," the old-style mobile phones with a hinge to fold it shut, the larger screens on smartphones display much more information, which is distracting to the point that while looking at the screen, the brain only perceives objects 20 to 30 centimeters away.

Two years ago, NTT DoCoMo conducted a computerized simulation at the famous "scramble" pedestrian crossing in front of JR Shibuya station. It hypothesized that if 1,500 people were to attempt to cross the intersection while focused on their smartphones, only about one-third (547) would make it across completely unscathed, while 446 would bump into another person and 103 would be knocked off their feet. That, the writer suggests with a touch of hyperbole, is as reckless as a drunk racing through city streets while driving a Ferrari at 300 kilometers per hour.

What about good manners and common sense? The sad fact is, these devices -- whether used by gamers, texters, or whatever else they do with their phones -- are addictive. Smartphone users can't control themselves. In Japan, people addicted to the internet from some time ago were given the sobriquet "netto-haijin" (internet human wrecks). And smartphone addicts are hooked to their devices just as hopelessly as are the people addicted to alcohol. Or nicotine. Or gambling.

What can you call those so addicted to their Pokemon Go game that they poke at the screens of their smartphone even on congested station platforms during the rush hour, except what they are -- world-class junkies?

It's futile, the writer believes, to merely criticize such behavior as a lapse of good public manners or common sense. Stimulant addicts aren't nagged to quit the drug because it's bad for them -- they're arrested and thrown in jail. That's the penalty they pay for being unable to control themselves. And unless someone does something, soon, the numbers of Pokemon players, Line texters and the rest are going to overwhelm the system, wrecking whatever's still left to be ruined in hapless Japan.

What to do then? Start slapping the mindless zombies who use their smartphones in public with fines, the way Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward now does with public smokers. The ward initially identified nine areas of heavy use, including Yurakucho, Kanda and Akihabara, and 12 years ago began levying fines of 2,000 yen on pedestrians who walk while puffing on cigarettes.

Jitsuwa Bunka Tabuu thinks the imposing of similar penalties will work to discourage those unable to refrain from walking about while immersed in their smartphones on crowded sidewalks and at intersections. Let them be recognized as the public nuisances they are, and let them pay the price for their foolhardy addiction with lightened wallets -- and even criminal records.

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

45 Comments
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If someone get's killed due to the negligence of someone using their sma-phone and it is found that that usage was the cause of death, then arrest and charge the person with pre-meditated murder and toss them in jail.

Like other totally preventable accidents and deaths due to people doing something they shouldn't have been in the first place, make the punishment equal to the effects of their stupidity.

Hammer enough people like that and then let's see what happens.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

If someone get's killed due to the negligence of someone using their sma-phone and it is found that that usage was the cause of death, then arrest and charge the person with pre-meditated murder and toss them in jail.

Why would they charge them with premeditated murder, when it was not premeditated, nor technically murder?

Call it what it is, willful negligence resulting in death, and throw them in jail for an appropriate amount of time. But calling it something it isn't won't help.

5 ( +14 / -9 )

“Pokemon Go will be the end of Japan!” screams the headline in Jitsuwa Bunka Tabuu

But nobody noticed, being engrossed in their little screens.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Why would they charge them with premeditated murder, when it was not premeditated, nor technically murder?

It is premeditated, as the individual made a choice to use a device that takes their attention away from what they are supposed to be doing by law. It is against the law to use such devices when operating a vehicle. No one forced them, they make a choice and that makes it premeditated.

There was no intent to kill, but by using the device against the law they make a conscious decision to not follow the law.

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

What can you call those so addicted to their Pokemon Go game that they poke at the screens of their smartphone even on congested station platforms during the rush hour, except what they are—world-class junkies?

What to do then? Start slapping the mindless zombies who use their smartphones in public with fines, the way Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward now does with public smokers. The ward initially identified nine areas of heavy use, including Yurakucho, Kanda and Akihabara, and 12 years ago began levying fines of 2,000 yen on pedestrians who walk while puffing on cigarettes.

This is clearly not about saving them from themselves but more to do with saving us from them. Just as second hand smoke or a burning cigarette butt to a child's face does lasting damage, so does the impact of those who are either injured physically and/or mentally by some smartphone zombie crashing into them or getting killed by the vehicle they are in control of. This needs to be addressed in the most vigorous way possible before it becomes the norm. Anything short of that is irresponsible and knowingly an action of culling the lower end of human intelligence.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

It is premeditated

Premeditated means the person thought about it ahead of time and planned it out. But it's clear these people haven't decided they are going to go out and purposefully distract themselves, with the intent to kill someone.

And it's not murder, because murder requires intent.

As I say, call it what it is - willful negligence resulting in death. And punish that strongly.

2 ( +11 / -9 )

I must be doing something wrong.

I've been playing Pokemon GO every day since it was released in Japan and have yet to be involved in an accident.

2 ( +9 / -7 )

As much as I despise these zombies, this is an overreaction. People distracted by their smart phone should simply be held fully responsible for any accident or injury they cause. Fining people for phone usage will only encourage greedy police to shake down the public very now and then. And we have already have too many laws as it is.

The problem will get better soon anyway, as users gravitate away from smart phones and into wearables and hearables that they can interface with more seamlessly. Of course, while that may somewhat free up their eyes and other senses, it will immerse people even more in an alternate reality. The effects of that, I'm afraid, will be far worse than anything we can imagine.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Despite the headline, the article goes on to quote studies from up to two years ago. Another Enquirer level mag?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The smart phone zombie problem preceded Pokemon. Stupid high school kids on bicycles with ear phones and concentrating on their smart phones. Stupid slow drivers weaving in the fast lane while texting. Geezers with noses rubbing the smart phone screen bumping into you. The best solution I can think of a the moment is to pass a law against using a smart phone or any cell phone while in motion in a public place. Then take the smart phones away from those pests!

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Premeditated means the person thought about it ahead of time and planned it out. But it's clear these people haven't decided they are going to go out and purposefully distract themselves, with the intent to kill someone.

I still suggest that the actions are premeditated, as I stated in a previous post, the intent may not be there to cause an accident, but the actions are premeditated as they made a conscious decision to use their devices in a manner that could cause another person harm by their negligence. No one forced them to use it, it was a personal choice, hence it becomes a premeditated action By definition; as I am sure you know; premeditate means to think out or plan an action beforehand, and their use of a device in a dangerous situation fits that definition.

And it's not murder, because murder requires intent.

No it does not, first degree murder may, but other definitions of murder do not require a legal definition of intent.

As I say, call it what it is - willful negligence resulting in death. And punish that strongly.

I would add it's a premeditated action resulting in negligent murder, or as some may say 2nd degree murder, which by some definitions is defined as; a killing caused by dangerous conduct and the offender's obvious lack of concern for human life.

Using a sma-phone device in a dangerous situation is dangerous conduct, and the action itself is an obvious lack of concern for human life as well. While there may not be obvious intent, the actions speak otherwise.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

What to do about mindless smartphone zombies? Solution: Add a sensor to the phones. When you are in the path of collision, it will show huge warning on screen.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

All phone users should have to stand with the smokers in those stinky smoking areas.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

All phone users should have to stand with the smokers in those stinky smoking areas

That's a terrible thing to do to all those poor smokers.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Have escalating fines for not maintaining situational awareness due to smartphone usage. Whether walking, standing (if in pedestrian or vehicle traffic zone), or cycling.

It's silly to wait until an actual accident occurs to issue a fine.

Issue a ticket if the person is engaging in behavior that COULD have been serious except that they got lucky this time.

The low fines in some jurisdictions for driving-while-texting or driving-while-using-a-phone are also silly. The possible outcome is just as deadly as for Driving While Intoxicated.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Twits staring at their smart phones and endangering themselves and others is hardly new. This article offers no real evidence that there has been a substantial increase in stupidity as a result of Pokemon Go. The Tsukuba University data given is not specific to Pokemon Go.

Jitsuwa Bunka Tabu (実話BUNKAタブ as they write it) makes Spa! (the usual source for Kuchikomi articles) look like a magazine aimed at intellectuals and academics.

http://www.coremagazine.co.jp/jitsuwa_bunka/

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Yubaru: "There was no intent to kill..."

Then it is not premeditated murder. Period.

I saw a guy this morning doing sudoku, book and pencil, while walking down the street. No one was screaming about him or how it was the end of the world. Ditto for the woman who ran into me rushing out of the bank while staring at her bank book a while back, and for the teacher I saw trip and fall over a rain gutter while staring at a map to get to a student's house during visiting season. And did you know most TV navigation systems in cars can still be switched to TV programs and won't automatically go to the navigation map when the car is accelerating? Even if it's the navigation map, is that not the same as someone looking at a map on their phone? Can they not be aware of their surroundings while doing so, but it's okay in a CAR? The phone, and any games on it, are not the problem, it's the people and their inability to focus on their surroundings. I don't suppose if someone were reading the tabloid the sensational headline was printed in while walking they would raise a fuss, either.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

MsDelicious. (and JT) how is this in any way relevant to smoking? I smoke but I don't constantly stare at my keitai nor do I drive or walk or so on while looking at it. and anyway its not like phone zombies are a new phenomenon in Japan that just arrived with Pokémon Go......

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@smithinjapan

Even if it's the navigation map, is that not the same as someone looking at a map on their phone?

No ! It isn't ! First of all because there is also a "voice" guiding the person driving. I have "glanced" at my navigator (especially if I'm stopped at a red light) but I certainly do not sit and stare at it all the time while driving.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I can't believe I live on the same planet as some of you. Are you all really suggesting fining and locking up people for using their phones? Unless they actually HURT somebody let people live their lives. Who are you to judge them for what they do? This mindset that people need to be controlled is sickening. People should be free to do what they want as long as it isn't harming anyone but themselves. Enough controlling.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

FightingViking: "I have "glanced" at my navigator (especially if I'm stopped at a red light) but I certainly do not sit and stare at it all the time while driving."

And lots of people merely glance at their screen for navigation, checking email, and playing Pokemon. If it is wrong for walking it is DEFINITELY wrong for driving, and even you glancing at your navigation for a second is all it takes for an accident to occur, as you are not watching the road while you do so. So, which is it?

Good for you for not staring at your car's navigation system while driving -- some do if they feel there is no danger, or at least take more than a cursory glance. Many others also pull off to the side of the road and illegally park, turning on the hazards, to check it or watch the TV while waiting for someone; not much different than stopping on the sidewalk to catch a monster.

Yeah, people who stare at their phones and nothing else while walking are a problem, and most CERTAINLY if they are riding a bike or driving and doing so, but you miss the point that it is not at all limited to smart phones, nor is it limited to Pokemon Go. The latter is just the scapegoat for the dissatisfaction in many people's lives, or else just irrational paranoia. You see it any time new technology comes out: many said the ball point pen would be the death of society. Their offspring said the television would be. Theirs the computer. And now it's the smart phone. Like I said, the people who complain have no trouble with others who do EXACTLY the same thing (reading while walking, for example) but with a different item in their hands.

Another example is when last week on Tuesday I went to the gym and measured my pulse and blood pressure on the machine before working out. An old codger next to me was writing his results down on a piece of paper the gym provides, while I was inputting mine in the Apple health app (takes less time, you can keep your results indefinitely, etc.). He 'tsk tsk'ed when he looked at me and said in Japanese, "You shouldn't sit on the machines and use your cell phone." I actually appreciated what he said because most people in my gym, including staff, say NOTHING to members who sit on the machines and do nothing between reps, or the old people sit on the machines and chat to each other, and I said thanks but pointed out I was recording my results, same as him. He was good enough to see the double standard and chuckled and apologised, then asked me about the app. I stood up to show him a little (he stayed sitting on the machine).

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Penske Nievko: I can't believe I live on the same planet as some of you. Are you all really suggesting fining and locking up people for using their phones? Unless they actually HURT somebody let people live their lives.

Because they're doing something they're not supposed to be doing, and if you wait until they "actually HURT somebody", the penalty's not going to be enough, and is going to be too late to benefit the victim.

If you want to prevent accidents, the only serious way is to proactively penalize negligent behavior even when it doesn't result in an accident.

Otherwise, why not let people drive drunk? It's the same thing, right?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

force players after so many hours of playing to go camping for three days without a cellphone or anything other than camping technology (Not Japanese camper trailer camping). This might help reset to the previous human personality

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Wow, what a bunch of wowsers. Most Go players are normal, considerate and just enjoying the fun of catching something while being outdoors.

The idiots have always been there in some form or another, but trying to wrap everyone up in the same "dangerous" category is nonsense. Put away your pitchforks, or save them for a corrupt politician or a nasty criminal.

This article is so full of dramatic statements, I have to assume it is just clickbait.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Ignore them. They are zombies.

People are starved for entertainment. They have so much leisure time now because they hate their jobs, their families, the opposite sex, or whatever. They fill their time with whatever anti-social, narcissistic behavior they can find, and that is frequently drugs, alcohol, crime, or mindless pursuits such as games, gambling... or whatever. They don't even have religion anymore... most of them.

Intensive phone usage is a symptom, not the disease. Trying to treat the symptom is not going to do much good. And as far as the disease? The French call it ennui.

What was that line from the Matrix ? "as a species, human beings define their reality through suffering and misery" Buddhism says pretty much the same thing. People are simply bored and doing what they can to replace their banal existence. If they don't have suffering and misery to make life interesting, then they will fill their leisure time up with nonsense enough to create that suffering and misery.

Let's be clear about what we mean by zombies. These are not Walking-Dead zombies. These are beautiful child-like Eloi zombies waiting to be slaughtered by Morlocks.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

tie their shoes together while they are playing candy crush, then let off a firecracker behind them

3 ( +3 / -0 )

What to do? Ignore them and stop wasting time and energy in other people who are enjoying themselves, and focus your efforts on minding your own business.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@Article

42% of mothers accompanying small children said they had the experience of bumping into someone while texting, and 47% of people over age 70 said they had been jostled by someone using a phone. The same experience was stated by 50% of wheelchair-bound individuals questioned in the survey.

Sigh ... if you move around long enough, sooner or later you will be bumped by someone, whether they are texting or not. If only <50% of people actually have experience of being bumped that's not bad.

@smithinjapanSEP. 06, 2016 - 10:48PM JST Amazing. For once we actually agree.

@Yubaru Be very careful what you wish for. Japanese criminal jurisprudence (like Germany) recognizes 5 levels of mens rea - 意図、確定の故意、未必の故意、認識ある過失、認識無き過失.

The dividing line between 未必の故意 (conditional intent) and 認識ある過失 (conscious negligence) is the actor's will - whether he is OK with the negative consequence. In the latter, the possibility flashed across his mind, but he believes he can avoid it. This is the most likely mental state of the average person staring at his phone.

It is possible to insist that his being aware of it and continuing to press the action necessarily means it is OK with the actor. In fact, this is the minority scholarly interpretation for 未必の故意 (try looking up 認識説 vs 認容説). However, you might want to consider the long term consequences of characterizing a neutral action with a relatively low probability of causing serious consequences as not only negligent, but an indicator presuming a person is "OK" with another's death.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

If people are hurt, or worse, playing that game, then they deserve it.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The phenomena is happening all around the world, and just another distraction created for people. No one gets concerned and writes an article when a guy reading the news isn't paying attention, why get mad at someone for playing Pokemon Go? These phone zombies were a problem before Pokemon Go.

Like someone said, the root of this problem goes deeper than just superficial reasons. I can somewhat agree that it may be a mental issue similar to that of other addictions (gambling, drinking, and other obsessive behaviors)

People are becoming more and more anti-social because technology allows us to. Japan, Tokyo in particular, just exhibits an extreme case.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I see a business opportunity, a phone with radar/sonar to notify the user that there is danger ahead. "Alert u will be hit by a train in 0.3 seconds, please move", "You have driven into a lake, switching to sonar"

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Give 'em a swift kick in the rear end!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Time to call in the Pied Piper.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

but you miss the point that it is not at all limited to smart phones, nor is it limited to Pokemon Go. The latter is just the scapegoat for the dissatisfaction in many people's lives, or else just irrational paranoia.

Full agreement. It's conventional for media to blame new technology even though the pattern is not new at all. I've been bumped by people reading a paperback book while walking. I've been bumped by guys busy trying to open a pack of cigarettes. I've come close to getting knocked down by kids on cycles who were too busy talking to each other to pay attention to pedestrians.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Is banning the game too much to ask? It sure has raised a lot of controversy.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I leave them be, but there are times people should really put away their smartphones (and usually they can't even during such times).

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I had the opposite issue the other day. I was waiting for the train, and reading my phone while I was waiting. It was later in the evening, and there were quite a few people. Some ossan was behind me. As we boarded the train, I was holding my phone, but I wasn't looking at it (because of course I was getting on the train). This guy was getting all pushy behind me, trying to push past. Usually I just ignore stuff like this, as it's not worth getting worked up over, but this guy was forceful enough about it that I finally half-snapped and angrily said "Jesus" to him. "You're looking at your phone" he said, trying to deflect back to me, but I wasn't. I don't think he was expecting me to speak Japanese, and I let him have it.

So I think all this complaining about people using their phone while walking etc. gave this guy a reason to complain about/to me, even though I wasn't even doing it.

This is the problem with people jumping on a bandwagon of complaint. It blows issues up beyond what they should be. I got accused for something I wasn't doing, in order to deflect from something he was doing.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Strangerland: I had the opposite issue the other day. ...

Maybe he saw you more clearly than you saw yourself ... sometimes when operating with two minds, the outward-facing mind loses track of what the inward-facing mind was doing ...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Maybe he saw you more clearly than you saw yourself

Nope. I wasn't looking at my phone while boarding the train. Simple as that.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Because they're doing something they're not supposed to be doing, and if you wait until they "actually HURT somebody", the penalty's not going to be enough, and is going to be too late to benefit the victim.

If you want to prevent accidents, the only serious way is to proactively penalize negligent behavior even when it doesn't result in an accident.

Otherwise, why not let people drive drunk? It's the same thing, right?

Driving, yes because that DOES put others at risk. I'm talking about this notion that it's OK to control others because they need to be policed. If someone is walking and using their smartphone and gets hit by a bike or car, it's their damn fault. That should be punishment enough. And it goes beyond the smart phone zombies. All people should be allowed to do whatever they wish without some big nanny telling them what they can/can't do with their bodies or what not unless it interferes with or hurts others in the process. Nobody has a right to control someone else.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Those of us who are NOT 'smombies' are now expected to their eyes and ears, and keepers of manners, as well as our own, avoiding them because they are engrossed in their stupid little world. Talk of fines is ridiculous. Who will police that? They would just no 'get' it anyway. It may seem extreme but a more simple solution might 'hit home' - don't avoid them. Brace yourself and hold your line. Protect yourself - it is your right. You could also clap (hands low) to warn them. If they have to take evasive action or their phone ends up in their face or on the ground, so be it. After a couple of times they will learn.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I couldn't agree more with this article. These zombies need to be fined, and for repeat offenders...prosecution. If I can't drive my bicycle after having a couple of beers, how can they allowed to be the public nuisance they are?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I'm one of the good people. I never walk and read. I consider it dork behavior. I walk and think. I never look at navigation, only listen to it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think they should build zombie traps into the pavements. Big sticky patches that any normal person can see and avoid but the smart phone zombies will walk over it and get stuck, then have to pay a release fee to be unstuck.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Can't believe some of the people commenting are so disingenuous as to claim that they have been bumped by people who were reading the newspaper or going out of a building in a rush. Those cases are about 0.1%, while the cases of smombies bumping into others, or suddenly stopping in the middle of a street while texting retarded messages through Line, and blocking the way is 99.9% of annoyances. Not to mention those twats (mainly dumb girls) who ride their bikes really fast while they check on Facespook the posts their fake friends have posted because they are attention whores. Seriously, most people nowadays behave like extremely spoiled brats. They are extremely selfish, hedonist megalomaniacs who don't give a damn about others and who think they are the center of the Universe.

This doesn't only apply to young people, since old farts do it all the time too.

And of course it's not just a problem of Japan, but it's a serious issue worldwide. South Korea and China seem to be, according to statistics, the worst countries in terms of smartphone addiction, by the way.

Anyway, as a conclusion, just say that we can just expect people to become more selfish and retarded generation after generation.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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