California; Hayward — Gen Z is renowned for setting trends, and the latest movement that's gained significant traction among them is known as "silent walking.” This seemingly revolutionary concept involves going for a walk without the company of phones, music, podcasts, or other technological distractions, according to New York Post.
Podcaster Mady Maio is credited with inadvertently starting this movement.
In a TikTok video, she recounts how her boyfriend challenged her to try walking without any digital diversions. Initially skeptical due to her anxiety, she gave it a shot. The first few minutes of her silent walk were chaotic, but she soon entered what she calls a "flow state," where she could genuinely hear herself. Maio believes that the universe and intuition communicate through whispers, and embracing silence allows individuals to tune into these vital signals. Silent walking provided her with the clarity she had long sought, dispelling brain fog and allowing ideas to flow freely.
Although Maio played a pivotal role in making silent walking go viral, the term was originally coined in January by New York City influencer Arielle Lorre. She, too, highlighted the sensory awareness and grounding effects of walking in silence.
Now, countless Gen Z individuals are joining the silent walking trend, leaving behind the once-popular "hot girl walk" that arose during lockdown. They document their experiences on TikTok, revealing the benefits they've derived from this newfound practice.
However, the notion of silent walking has left some incredulous, as they view it as a return to a basic form of human activity. One commentator humorously noted, "Gen Z just discovered walking." The trend has sparked a broader conversation about society's dependence on phones and technology. While multiple studies extol the virtues of spending time in nature for our well-being, an equal number highlight the perils of excessive phone use. This reliance on devices is so widespread that some government entities have even banned phones in schools to combat falling academic performance.
Beyond the benefits of disconnecting from technology, silent walking also has safety implications. Pedestrians glued to their phones, dubbed "smombies," are at a heightened risk of accidents and injuries while in public spaces.
Yet, in an ironic twist, those promoting silent walking are often sharing their experiences on social media, which somewhat contradicts the essence of walking in silence.
Nonetheless, the shift away from constant digital connectivity, even if only for short periods, is seen as a positive step for Gen Z. Taking a break from screens, spending time in nature, and embracing moments of silence offer both personal and societal advantages.
Noumaan Faiz, (he/him) is a journalist and entertainer from Hayward, CA who covers culture and entertainment.
Edited by Nykeya Woods.