There were at least five of them that I came near while driving. I am sure that there were many more, but five I noticed right in front of me, behind me, and beside me. The ‘them’ I am referring to? Distracted drivers. Those drivers paying far more attention to their phones than to what they should be doing: driving. At times it was laughable, like the woman who had three car lengths between her and I while she was face down in her phone. How can she go without missing a moment of what’s going on online? Or with that test feed? Can it really not wait?
Having driven a manual transmission car during the years cell phones broke into popularity, I never gained that one dangerous aspect of phone and technology addiction. I wouldn’t have been able to shift if I had tried. So now when I get into cars, even if they have automatic transmissions, it feels unnatural to have my phone in hand. It is less my own skills in preventing habits than the luck of circumstance.
This serves as yet another example as to the power our technology has over us. The addiction is often too strong. Albeit, driving while playing on Facebook is a far more dangerous aspect of the addiction, it only adds to the point that we have a real problem in our society. It’s a problem we are losing to.
Even as I wrote the draft to this post out on pen and paper, a feeble attempt at pushing away from using technology, I was writing it on top of a laptop with my phone and tablet right in front of me. I am not doing that stellar a job keeping it away. It’s hard. Very hard. Especially given the usefulness these tools provide. Add that they are a source of entertainment and increase the difficulty of turning away. Compound on top of that that it is in the very design of these devices and the apps therein to be as addicting or attention grabbing as possible… we’re doomed.
But that idea above gives me hope. I don’t drive with the devices in hand. Much like wearing a seatbelt, I unintentionally built in a habit that really helps. Few of us can manage these things with little effort. Outside of the car, I am not one of those people. In the driver’s seat, I am. The trick of it will be to find a way to take what I have in the car to build it into the habits of the rest of my daily life. Maybe then I can help others break free, as we all should.
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