BARRY’S BLOG WEDNESDAY 7-31-13

Cell Phones! World’s greatest convenience or a plague on society?

Word out yesterday that the horrific high speed rail accident in Spain last week was caused by the driver being on a cell phone probably sending pictures to his buddies bragging about the high speed he was pushing the train. Well while he was busy on the phone, the train approached a curve at twice the speed that would be normal for that train. The result was it spinning off the tracks, crashing the train and killing almost 100 passengers.

So, who is to blame?

I thought through this yesterday, and I believe we can blame the phone companies. The early years, you could not shut off the bell. Phone companies owned the phone, and their rule was that you could not alter the instrument so the phone company was never blamed for you not answering someone calling. I remember the entire family running for a ringing phone and god forbid we didn’t find out who was calling. Then the teenage years when girls would occupy the phone for hours with her friends, and then a boy calls….oooh boy!

I am old enough to remember phones that had a crank on the side. Then came rotary dials, and princess phones, finally in the late 70′s and early 80′s came the CELL. My first cell phone was about the size of a shoe box and weighed about 10 pounds. Now I could talk to anyone from anywhere, well almost, and the mobile phone call had arrived.

Today, the smart phones have taken over. Land lines are being shut off or used for data transmission as the cell has become more important to our bodies than wallets, jewelry and tattoos. The problem is that talking on the phone has become an obsessive occupier of our attention which makes one a missile about 160 pounds wondering aimlessly through malls, crowds, onto streets, and driving machinery. Some of us have been trained like airline pilots, to multi-task but taught that your must manage your attention with life threatening situations always getting full focus. Trainers would pound into our brains: “Fly the airplane first, talk later!”

Governments have tried to legislate human behavior by passing laws that makes talking on a cell phone or texting while driving a finable offense. It has helped somewhat but daily I observe people talking on their iPhone and driving. Just yesterday I witnessed a young woman in a fast sports car run a light and speed down the onramp to I80 chatting up a storm on her iPhone totally oblivious to anything on the highway. I yelled at her: “Fly the darn plane and talk later”.

Old habits die hard!

Have a great day, be kind to yourself!

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