Recently, I’ve seen a number of public service spots pointing out how texting or cell phone use while driving is twice as deadly as driving drunk. Not only do I believe it; I’ve seen it, up close and personal. The strangest time was last Sunday morning while I was doing my morning walk with the sweet-crazy Aussie-Saluki. We were halfway across the street that had a four-way stop when a driver comes up the street…and keeps going, without even stopping. Fortunately, I’m slightly paranoid, and look around when crossing streets, even at stop signs and in crosswalks, and when I suspected what might happen, we sprinted. Even so, the driver barely missed us, but he passed so close that I could see he wasn’t even looking – except at the cell-phone he held in one hand. And he was dressed in coat and tie, apparently heading for church.
Not a day goes by that I don’t see text-impaired driving and walking, and at least where we live it’s getting worse. I see mothers with small children in their cars glued more to their cellphones than either their driving or their children. I even occasionally see parents walking with children – wearing earbuds and ignoring those offspring. I see scores of college students driving one-handed with the other hand holding a cellphone to their ear or texting on it.
What has struck me about all this is that it’s an extreme form of narcissism. All of these individuals are so wrapped up in themselves and whatever pleasure or need the texting or phoning fulfills that they don’t and possibly can’t think of the potential consequences of overuse and careless use of instant communications.
Young people, particularly, seem glued to their devices, as if they are prosthetics that they cannot do without. Increasingly, college students are spending more time on social media and less on their studies, but paradoxically, in general, they’re less socially adept because they interact less with others in direct personal contact and restrict themselves to electronic contacts. It even appears that the majority of college students move across campus, earbuds firmly in place, ignoring the other students around them.
It’s as if all these users are electronic/communications druggies, with all the narcissistic faults of alcohol or drug dependency. And no one seems to recognize this… or the increasingly lethal side-effects.