Phone Zombies Campaign: Anchoring the term "Phone Zombies" in common language

Don’t worry. It took me quite some time myself, before I appreciated the value of honoring source code licenses :slight_smile:

Google Images ( offers a way to find non-copyrighted images. If you first do a search, then select from the toolbar Tools > Usage rights, there you’ll find options of licenses. And there are many repositories. Some need signup, some not. I always prefer Wikimedia or Wikipedia as sources.

(BTW You’ll find how selecting an open license limits the amount of stuff that is out there, so you have to be creative)

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Here is a picture that would work to show an actual zombie looking down (first of two pictures in the meme):

The superinposed text would be something like “Arent you a bloody zombie”.

Here is a picture I found actually searching “phone zombie pictures” (obviously copyrighted).

Text could be “Aren’t you a bloody phone zombie”

We would need to find a free or stock picture showing a guy, funnily bending over like in the first picture, looking at his phone. The example here is just to show some memes already exist.

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Cool! The second picture is an (probably illegal) derivative of Steve Cutts work, whom I mentioned yesterday in our ‘Video inspiration’ issue. See more of his work there. His video’s have received many millions of views.

I’ve reached out to Steve via LinkedIn to thank him and told him, we want to reach the same level of impact with our crowdsourced Awareness Campaign project. Who knows, maybe he wants to give us some advice, or even lend a hand.

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Great stuff. Yeah, for this meme idea to go viral, we need to juxtapose the first picture (I think it is a stock picture, I can pay for its unlimited use if needed) with a similar picture of a single guy in a very similar pose, comically bending over more than is necessary, this time holding a phone.

We can even take the bloody picture ourselves, not that hard, we dont need beautiful models and professional photographers for this to work. Yeah, would be harder to find a real zombie to model for the first picture.

Anyway, as I would suggest, let us move further discussions on this to Github, now that the campaign and theme have been created.

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Yes, let’s continue on Github, but I want to thank you for your kind offer to contribute financially! We’ll get there when we get there, (and are at a state where we can honor donators and give proper attribution).

One note on the meme right above (the probably illegal use of copyrighted work), the message says “Today’s generation of zombies”. I feel we will have much more viral potential if we, as I proposed earlier, offer a way for anyone to tease their friends engaging in such behavior. The means would be to put it this way “Aren’t you a bloody phone zombie”. Ok, I repeat myself, but it is a key point, I believe. Enough with that! Over and out.

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“Phone Zombies” Campaign



This campaign focuses on “Phone Zombies”, people absorbed in smartphones to the cost of all else, to make them aware of this unsocial behavior, promote smartphone self-consciousness, change habits.


  • Widespread adoption and use of the Phone Zombie language term and memes.

  • Reinforce the notion that being called a Phone Zombie is something to avoid

  • Others pay attention because calling someone Phone Zombie is a funny tease


The campaign is basically targeted to the entire population, but there are 2 groups:

  • Everyone that is effectively a Phone Zombie in how they use their smartphone
  • Anyone that wants to tease, or call someone out as a Phone Zombie if he/she deserves it

Success criteria

Success is hard to measure, especially with no prior experience. But we should define metrics for individual deliverables (no. of shares, likes, etc.).

  • Success criteria will be more closely defined as the campaign comes along.


  • No retrospective has been held yet. The first retrospective is planned at [retrospective date].


Phone Zombies are people who aren’t paying attention to their surroundings because they are focused upon their smartphone (see: Wikipedia). This happens in all kinds of social settings: during a one-on-one talk with a friend, or when in a group. At a brithday party. Or when walking (or cycling) on the street, where zombies bump into other pedestrians.

People are not aware how this erodes the social fabric. ‘Phone Zombie’ is the term to have people snap out of it, and make them feel (slightly) ashamed. When the use of the term becomes more widespread, and the ways to make people aware they are zombies, a self-consciousness will creep in, and people will try to avoid being called the Zombie yet again. This is the point where habits and behavior starts to change. And this is the ultimate goal of this campaign.

Some examples of how it is used in spoken language:

  • “Hey Phone Zombie! Watch where you’re going!”
  • “Ohh, he has turned into a husk. A proper Phone Zombie… Snap out of it, man!”
  • “This freaking place is full of Phone Zombies. I’m outa here!”

And in social media memes:

  • [Guy to his friend, pointing to other friend]: “Hey look, he’s out again. Send it now!” --> Friend sends Whatsapp animated GIF to zombie friend, who automatically opens it, because that’s what zombies do.
  • [Friend keeps responding on FB Messenger, tiring of conversation] --> Send fiend Phone Zombie image as sign to stop ‘conversation’.


Video: Phone Thriller (TODO)

This very short, funny - but with shock effect - video re-enacts the start of Michael Jackson’s famous Thriller until the moment that Michael is touched at the shoulder and swivels around, showing his zombie face.

Video: Spirited Away (TODO)

During a social gathering with friends, there is a strange bird sound. One friend changes behavior, becomes distracted, and turns his back to the others. When he is twisted around by his peer, he has changed in a snarling, saliva-dripping (Phone) Zombie, that resists coming back to reality.

Video: All Alone (TODO)

This is an adaptation of the animated video of Steve Cutts, and not dissimilar to I Am Legend with Will Smith where everyone is a Phone Zombie, and there is no one to have social interactions with


A series of images depicting memes to share on social media, as well as images to use in mastheads and link previews of blog posts and articles


A series of animated GIF’s to share on social media


  • Campaign strategy yet to be determined. Details will be in a separate campaign strategy document.

  • Additionally you can point to general strategy resources in the /strategy folder.


  • Funding requirements will be determined per individual Deliverable.


  • No milestones have been set yet.


  • This campaign has no additional resources. Please edit or comment to add your relevant links.

@anon51879794 found some stock photography about Phone Zombies that we might use, if we obtain proper permission:


There is widespread use of Phone Zombie already, so an image source for existing works would be valuable.


Yep I like it, I also think it’s non-offensive enough for somone to use when calling their mate out.

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I think “phone zombie” is reasonably well-used. I used it in the caption to this photo for a local newspaper article last spring or summer:

Yes, I agree. Since I first encountered the term, I started to notice it in many places. But it is still usable for awareness campaigns (e.g. create memes that attract attention to our community).

Hi @aschrijver, totally missed your message. I wish to join you at your next meetup. Great initiative!

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Thanks! Mayb you’d like to join the Campaigners team? I don’t know where you are at, but I’m not in meetups in SF. Living in The Netherlands :slight_smile:

Cross referencing @Siddhi’s cool video link posted as part of the fun part of ‘fun and rewarding’ in the community principles (i.e. tagged ‘fun’). Here is where you can have some laughs, folks: Fun Video About Phones and Attention :smile:

Thought this was a good meme to add to the Phone Zombie campaign.


I found that meme in a neuroscience forum in… Facebook and shared pic to Pat. Let me try to get their url.
Edit: I think this is the page, I scrolled down their feed and can’t find the image today though. Not sure

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