Walking around the Case Western Reserve University campus in the early fall can be fun; leaves change color, there’s a little snap in the air and geese fly overhead for points south. It can also be a little like an obstacle course, as in addition to watching for the usual heavy University Circle traffic you have to dodge your fellow pedestrians who are too deeply involved in their cell phones or other electronic devices to notice your existence.
We all have lives, and many of us use cell phones or other devices to try and organize those lives. However deeply you try and bury yourself in an electronic cocoon the real world still exists and can bite you if you are not paying attention. You see it in law enforcement with an increasing number of laws regarding texting or cell phone use while driving. You can also see it in popular culture by watching YouTube footage of people walking into water fountains or other stationary objects while using various devices—hilarious, unless it happens to you.
Here at CWRU, this issue manifests itself in a couple of different ways. It can be seen in students crossing the street in defiance of (or oblivious to) traffic signals and avoiding getting splattered only by alert drivers. It can make you more vulnerable to being a victim of crime, ranging from cell phone snatching to other crimes. Many crimes that occur here are crimes of opportunity, and appearing (or being) oblivious to anything or anyone around you can present an opportunity. It may also prevent you from being aware of fellow campus community members or fellow citizens who might need your help; we have caught crimes on camera here where cocooned pedestrians walk by a crime in progress like passing ships.
By all means let’s continue to use technology to call Mom, order pizza or get help with physics problems, but let’s also try to maintain at least one eye on the here-and-now as we move about the campus and enjoy the sights and sounds of fall. Let’s look out for each other—literally.
On the Beat is a weekly safety column written by Sergeant Jeffrey Daberko of CWRU PD. He welcome questions, suggestions and gripes/groans/moans/complaints about campus life at firstname.lastname@example.org.