Mike Murphy

Mike Murphy

It is certainly understandable that a pandemic and racial turmoil warrant front-page headlines. But since when did the release date of a new phone become big news. When rumors regarding a new iPhone coming out in the fall start popping up on major news outlets, a guy really can’t help but wonder if there is any hope for mankind.

Notice I said “rumors,” not facts. Professional new-phone rumor spreader Ming-Chi Kuo is providing leaks such as the updated iPhone “may” introduce new screen sizes. One model “could have” a 5.4-inch screen. The new iPhone “will likely” be available in new colors including — better sit down for this — light orange!

One model of the new phone “could go” as large as 6.7 inches compared to the current 6.5-inch display on iPhone 11. That’s swell, but I’m pretty sure an additional .2 of an inch is not going to help me see my grandson’s smiling face any better — a magnifying glass will still be required.

There are even “signs suggesting” an improved camera module, which, of course, means higher definition pictures of cats kissing their owners’ noses! Hard to contain one’s excitement about that.

Adding to the almost unbearable suspense, Apple has not confirmed the name of the new phone. But since its predecessor is called iPhone 11, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that one of the new models will be called iPhone 12.

Whether it’s called iPhone 12 or myPhone Spice X Ningbo Bird, it’s about time that companies start placing warning labels on their phones. After all, cigarette packs and plastic bags acquired warning labels ages ago. There’s even this head scratcher: “Do not hold the wrong end of a chainsaw.” If you have been paying attention, you’ve probably noticed there is a movement proclaiming it is time to also do something about the growing hazard of “distracted walking.”

That’s right, distracted walking is a real thing. Much like distracted driving, which led to bans on using phones while cruising in the car, laws to eliminate distracted walking are popping up around the country.

A few cities are taking action to prevent citizens from staring down at their phones while crossing a street, totally oblivious as a semi-truck, horn honking and brakes screeching, bears down on them. Honolulu has become one of the first cities in the world to ban pedestrians from looking at their mobile devices while crossing the street. A New York lawmaker wants a hefty fine for pedestrians who text while crossing streets.

You might assume that the danger of such behavior would surely be obvious to the average person. Not so based on frequently asked questions posted on Google. Questions such as “Why is it not safe to talk on a mobile phone while crossing the road?” Or how about this doozy: “Is it OK to NOT use a mobile phone while walking?” Are you beginning to see the problem?

The U.S. National Safety Council has spelled out the dangers of using phones while walking in the simplest of terms: “For pedestrians, the distraction can cause them to trip, cross roads unsafely or walk into motionless objects such as street signs, doors or walls.” Heck, I’ve been guilty of all three of those on a regular basis, and I do not even own a phone!

After numerous pedestrian deaths in 2016, cities in Australia installed in-ground red lights at busy intersections to warn people staring down at their phones that they better look up or risk getting clobbered.

Pedestrian deaths have been so high in Paris that the Road Safety Authority has taken radical action, creating a “Virtual Crash Billboard.” If you cross the street while the no-crossing sign is flashing, it triggers a loud blast of the terrifying sound of a car slamming on its brakes. Next, a picture of your startled face is posted on a screen for all to see, that is if they happen to glance up from THEIR phones.

One thing that pedestrians looking at phones while crossing streets should realize is that there is a very good chance many of the vehicles whizzing by are being controlled by drivers who are staring at phones also! Consider this statistic: In the United States at any given moment, more than 800,000 vehicles are being driven by someone using a hand-held cell phone.

So if you, along with 21 million of his other followers, happen to be watching JiffPom the tiny Pomeranian dog strut around in his pink jammies on TikTok when you’re stepping onto the street, while at the same moment, some guy is barreling towards you in an SUV and watching on his phone Turkish chef Czn Burak chop up an entire lamb, chances are pretty good you will end up human shish kabob and totally miss JiffPom giving his cute little wink!

Perhaps traffic deaths of pedestrians due to staring at their phones is just another step in the fulfillment of Charles Darwin’s survival of the fittest theory. Come to think of it, perhaps survival of the smartest would be a more apt adaptation.

Remember, if you do happen to purchase the latest iPhone this coming fall, be sure to read the warning label if it has one — just don’t do it while crossing the street.

Mike Murphy of Pocatello is an award-winning columnist whose articles are syndicated by Senior Wire. He recently published a book titled “Tortoise Crossing – Expect Long Delays,” which is a collection of 100 of his favorite columns. It is available on Amazon.com.