These new train safety ads tell travelers that any friends who’d drop you for a late response aren’t friends at all.

Your smartphone can do anything these days. Not only can it serve as a music player, it can be a portable games console and even a gateway to your next ninja tour guide. But with all this to offer, are people spending too much time on their phones? So much time that it could prove fatal?

Awareness campaigns for the dangers of walking while texting have cropped up in the most vital areas: public transport stations. One such sign was snapped by Japanese Twitter user @oohira0511 and shared with the online masses.

“I think it’s great they put this up.” (translation of sign below)

The striking sign features nothing but black text on a yellow background, instantly commanding attention from any nearby passengers. The text itself reads:

“Whatever you lose out on because you didn’t reply straight away, it’s definitely not a real friendship.”

The announcement cuts right to the root of why we’re tempted to stay plugged in to our phones. So many of us want to be reliable for our friends and family, and to be there exactly as we get a call or text. The ad goes on to implore us to stop texting while walking, not only in Japanese and English but also in Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese and Korean, too.

At the bottom of the announcement, the names of all four of the major phone suppliers in Japan are written: au, Docomo, Softbank and Y! Mobile. Clearly this is a great enough issue that they were all eager to sign off on it in the hopes of reaching more people.

Responses to the ad tried to dissect the exact meaning of the simple slogan, especially the term “straight away” which is rather subjective.

▼ An author pulled out the graphs to break down the linguistics of “straight away.”

“How many minutes does an “instant reply” take?

#SchematicIllustration (#BarChart)

People in their teens and 20s: “Within three minutes”
People in their 30s and over: “Within five minutes”

While high school students will permit up to an hour for others to read their text before it feels late, once read the reply must come within a 10-minute window or else be dismissed as late.

High school students are really operating on another plane compared to your average worker!”

Others came to criticize the statement, as to their mind it didn’t cover enough ground.

“I already know my friends won’t care if I reply late. But the ad itself concedes you miss out on something, right? Just because you’re not losing out on a friendship doesn’t mean there isn’t something at risk. Implying that you could feasibly miss out on something and then not expanding on it just feels sloppy and half-hearted to me.”

However it definitely held its own kernel of truth for at least one salaried worker.

“I know this ad is for people using LINE and other texting services. But I really want to force my boss, who sends an e-mail and then calls me after two minutes to make sure I got it, and customers who e-mail right as I’m about to sign off and expect a reply by next morning, to read this ad.”

It’s true that there’s a time and a place for phone usage, but when you take Japan’s famously busy atmosphere and work-life balance and combine it with a device that can address a lot of needs at once, we’ll probably need a more direct method to tackle this dangerous problem than some bright ads. That said, shoving and pushing offenders probably isn’t a great solution, either.

Source: Twitter/@oohira0511
Top image: Pakutaso