The “silent walking” trend is driving Generation Z to opt for a device-free walk


If there’s one thing Gen Z knows how to do, it’s set trends.

We’ve had ‘all showers’, ‘bed-spoiling’, even ‘minimal Mondays’ – which have been embraced to varying degrees by social media fanfare.

And now the latest Gen Z “movement” to take the youngest generation by storm is, ironically, not so new at all.

They call it “silent walking,” that is: going for a walk without your phones or listening to music, podcasts, or any technological distraction.

Podcaster Maddie Mayo credits herself with “unintentionally starting a movement” that, she promises, will “change your life.”

In a Tiktok video, she explains that it was her boyfriend who first challenged her to go for a walk without any distractions.

Maddie Mayo has “unwittingly started a movement” around quiet walking.
Instagram / @madymaio

“No AirPods, no podcasts, no music. Just me, myself and me,” she said in the video, which already has almost 500,000 views.

“And at first I was like hell no, my anxiety could never — which you’re probably thinking — but something inside me was like let’s just try it.”

Mayo said the first two minutes of her walk were “chaos” until she reached a “flow state” where “all of a sudden you can … hear yourself.”

Maddie was shocked to start a movement with her device-free walks.
TikTok / @MadyMaio

“Look, the universe and your intuition comes to you through whispers, so if you’re never alone with your thoughts and you’re never silent, you’ll miss the whispers,” she said.

“And those whispers are the most important ones to heed.”

Mayo said walking silently gave her the “clarity” she had always sought.

She then instructed followers on how to join the movement.
TikTok / @MadyMaio

“The brain fog lifted, suddenly all these ideas flow into me because I give them space to enter.

“Look, if I can do it, you can do it. I promise, just try it out. … Give yourself the gift of shutting up and listening to those whispers.”

Mayo may have made silent walking go viral, but the term was coined back in January by New York City influencer Ariel Lore — who also talked about the benefits of the activity on her podcast in April.

“I feel like when I walk in silence, my senses are alert. I smell everything, I hear everything, I see everything, and it’s so grounding to me,” she said.

The idea started when Maddie’s nutritionist recommended a 30-minute walk a day as opposed to high-stress cardio.
TikTok / @MadyMaio

“I know the hot girl ride had its moment. I’m trying to turn the silent walk into a girl, or a man, or whatever.’

Now, thousands of other Gen Zers are abandoning their hot girl walk — the original walking trend that emerged from cubicle fever — in favor of keeping quiet and posting about it on TikTok.

And while those who have tried the “silent walk” also rave about the benefits, many can’t believe that the younger generation thinks walking without being plugged in is so revolutionary.

“Is this real? It’s just walking… like people used to do before technology,” one person wrote.

“Gen Z just discovered walking,” wrote another.

Someone else suggested another idea: “We discovered this new idea called ‘thinking’.”

A number of TikTok users mocked the ‘silent walkers’, saying there’s a lot they can do when you ‘get off your phone’.

“What I don’t understand is how you can look at someone walking around without technology and be like, what the hell are they doing? This is a new method. I haven’t seen this before,” replied a duped TikToker.

The fact that it’s causing such a stir online points to a much larger trend in society: the way we’re so addicted to our phones.

Numerous studies show that spending time in nature is good for our health.

Almost as many studies are emerging about the harms of spending too much time on our phones.

Phones are such a distraction, the NSW government has banned the devices in state high schools to stop students “falling behind” in their studies.

Not to mention that distracted pedestrians – or “smombies” as the NRMA calls them – are at increased risk of injury and damage when in public.

So walking without being plugged in is also safer.

Yet the irony of it all is that by documenting their silent walks on social media as part of spreading the trend, these silent walks aren’t actually going silent at all.

However, it can be said that it’s a good thing that Gen Z is stepping away from their devices – even if it’s just for 30 minutes a day.

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