Any decent self-defense instructor will point out that the most important aspect in self-defense is situational awareness. If you are aware of your surrounds you have a far better chance of avoiding a fight entirely, which is the best form of self-defense.
The rise of mobile phones has seemingly hampered a great many people’s situational awareness. It’s not uncommon to see people walking around entirely unaware of their surroundings because their faces are looking down at their phones. This phenomenon has become so prevalent that one city is experimenting with crosswalk signals embedded in the ground:
Foreign visitors frequently wonder why crowds of Germans wait for traffic lights to turn green when there are no cars in sight.
That is why officials in the city of Augsburg became concerned when they noticed a new phenomenon: Pedestrians were so busy looking at their smartphones that they were ignoring traffic lights.
The city has attempted to solve that problem by installing new traffic lights embedded in the pavement — so that pedestrians constantly looking down at their phones won’t miss them.
Part of me thinks this sends the wrong message. When people are walking around they should be paying attention to their surroundings. Not only is it important from a self-defense aspect but it’s important for not running into other pedestrians.
I’m not stupid enough to assume you can convince people to stop looking at their phones when they’re walking around but there may be some middle ground that encourages people to not be looking down. A better solution may be be a focus on developing heads-up displays for people to wear so they can somewhat keep their eye on the sidewalk as they read through their messages.