Editorial: Hanging up to reconnect in the street

A flabbergasted retail attendant looks on as a suited man, mid conversation, bobs his head to ‘tap and pay’ using the very phone into which he speaks.

“You'll be taking it for granted in no time,” says the cheery voiceover artist in the bank advertisement for mobile pay, poking gentle fun at popular culture.

Well, culture’s too strong a word; let’s just say, popular but poor manners.

In news from Wodonga, Victoria recently came the story of a cafe owner who had told staff not to serve anyone talking into their mobile at the counter.

The shop signs cleary said: ‘We respectfully wish to advise you we will not serve you if you are talking on your mobile phone. Thank you for your understanding.’

But, the backlash! The abuse! Those popular, poor manners. And now, this request from Guide Dogs NSW spokeswoman Frances Tinsley for the ‘Eyes Up’ campaign’:

Constant use of mobile devices is now part of everyday life, but alarming new statistics have revealed it’s a danger that impacts many Australians who are blind or vision impaired every time they leave the house,” she writes.

Almost half of all people who use a white cane [have] been knocked over, injured or had their cane broken by someone walking into them in the past two years … engrossed in their mobile devices.”

Vision Australia estimates there are 384,000 Australians who are blind or have low vision, and projects this number will grow to 564,000 by 2030.

That’s potentially a lot of people getting knocked about or knocked over, just because someone is in a rush or perhaps distracted by calls or social media.

Clearly, mobile phones are a valuable item in this fast-paced, modern world, but have common courtesy and consideration been left hanging on the line?

There was a time, and it was not so long ago, when people could wait until they were home to make those important, and not-so-important, calls.

We used our time when out in public to watch where we were going and to even talk with others, whether g’day to a mate, directions to a tourist, or greeting a retail worker.

Surely our lives are not so busy these days that we can’t spare a few minutes off the mobile phone to watch where we are walking, and to whom we are talking?

Let’s get those ‘Eyes Up’.