The Science of Stumbling

As I tripped over my Chihuahua while perusing the newspaper, I stumbled upon a headline (literally) about the dangers of using a cellphone while walking. In scientific terms, cellphone use leads to “disrupted gait,” causing accidents. In layman’s terms: Buffoonery is on the rise!

Technologically-induced buffoonery is now so pervasive it commands academic attention, with exhaustive (and exhausting) research:

Science Whimsy Academy published a study on the frequency of falling among cellphone users who were blindfolded and placed on a trajectory with a coverless manhole. Nearly 99% of the subjects tested were observed falling down the hole, while a statistically insignificant number failed to fall (due to snagged clothing). Furthermore, falling down a manhole disrupted texting.

Surplus Capital University explored the negative effects of talking and texting while water-skiing. In addition to garbled communication, texting was impeded by moist buttons. Also, several subjects were inadvertently launched from water-ski ramps, causing severe injuries, as well as dropped calls.

Spavin Steed Quarterly studied the dangers of cellphone use while on horseback. Polo mallet maimings accounted for the most severe injuries. Secondary complaints included: Flipping, flailing and embarrassing postures, followed by shrubbery impalings. No horses were harmed, but handlers observed an increase in eye-rolling among equines and bystanders.

Fido Fancier magazine featured an article on dog-walking while texting known as “Dwalking.” Problems encountered included: becoming entangled in leashes, being dragged through underbrush, rolling down hills, falling off cliffs, and being jettisoned from bridges. Aside from physical dangers, there was also an embarrassing pattern of failure to notice the departure of one’s dog.

The Soothsayer Prep School found that texting, while walking, was less dangerous than doing so while gazing into a Crystal Ball, but slightly more so while consulting a Magic 8 Ball.

The Splay Foot Journal offered statistics on the benefits of splay-footedness in stabilizing drifting gait while texting in crowds. However, Arms Akimbo magazine later challenged their methodology.

Members of the theater community soliloquized about an escalation in cellphone distractions during performances.

Biggest complaints:
1. Drama on phones more compelling than drama on stage.
2. Showtune ringtones confusing to the orchestra.
3. ROTFLOL disrupting dialogue and blocking aisles.

Dashing Haberdashers newsletter claims an increase in ill-fitting suits due to clients taking calls during measurements, with a particularly negative impact on sleeve length.

Texting while using a Slip‘N Slide, riding a unicycle, walking on stilts or operating a forklift, topped the list of ill-advised distractions in Freak Accident magazine.

The Police Blotter reports an increase in Sandwich Board advertisers being tipped over in Times Square linked to texting tourists.

Clown College researched the simultaneous use of cellphones and joybuzzers with shocking results. A corollary study discovered that texting and walking with seltzer squirted in the face was the most dangerous, but texting while walking over banana peels was the most funny.

Finally, my own personal research confirms that using a cellphone while walking, greatly increases the chances of tripping over a Chihuahua.
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Eileen Mitchell is an award-winning essayist and playwright with recognition from The Robert Benchley Society Thurber House and the Will Rogers Writers Workshop.

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