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.
Eileen Mitchell is an award-winning essayist and playwright with recognition from The Robert Benchley Society Thurber House and the Will Rogers Writers Workshop.

This Is Your Brain On…

Welcome to your brain

Welcome to Your Brain

Compliments of Guest Blogger K. Jean King

Texting and driving – dangerous right? It’s a national campaign: to become aware of the dangers of texting while driving and to end it. But here is the thing about that: texting while driving is actually impossible to do.

Let’s start with the brain, because, like everything else, that is where our problem lies. There are two types of functions the brain uses to complete any given task: the cognitive and the associative.

When the brain is engaging in an associative task, it is capable of doing many different things at once, such as listening, talking, singing show tunes, and driving.

Since driving is an associative function, we have gotten very used to being able to do other things at the same time.  We can listen to music, have a conversation, eat a burrito, have a thumb war, all without compromising the effectiveness of our driving. (You know, as far as our brain is concerned).

This is why it is possible to talk on your cell phone and drive at the same time. Talking is associative. Driving is associative. Your brain can do it.

Cognitive tasks, on the other hand, render your brain incapable of performing any other task while you are engaged with them. Cognitive tasks include things like long division, reading and writing.

As soon as we pick up our phone and begin to read a text message, our brains have become involved in a cognitive task; by nature, a cognitive task needs the entire brain to engage in it.

Therefore, if you are texting, your car might still be moving, but your brain has stopped driving it.

If you are reading a text message, you are sitting in the front seat of a two-ton tank, now speeding down the road at fifty miles an hour with no one operating it.

Texting while Driving

Two Ton Tank Driving Itself

If you are writing a text message, be aware – that is all you are now doing.

Additionally, your brain will not start controlling these things again until you stop reading or writing that text message, either because you’ve finished or because your attention has been diverted by the giant elm tree that is now where your front hood should be.

To call any task “texting while…” would be -and is- completely inaccurate. When texting, your brain can do nothing but text. You cannot text while talking. You cannot text while singing. You cannot text while rubbing your stomach and patting your head. And you certainly cannot text while at the same time driving, even though, in our cars, we are under the illusion that we are doing both.


K. Jean King has been battling a writing affliction since early childhood. She lives outside of Philadelphia with yet another dog and the rest of her family. For humor and insight by K. Jean King, please visit