At the risk of stating the obvious, a new Minnesota law goes into effect today. What? You ask. Goldfish leash ordinances? Shoe taxes to pay for running paths? No. (Not this year.) The new law bans texting while driving. I approve.
Unenforceable as the law may be, it Sends the Right Message. If we don't ban texting now, humans will evolve into some horrible creature with an arm that comes right out of the sternum, and handles the wheel while the driver types out gossip.
Frankly, I love texting. It's as close as we'll get to beaming thoughts directly into people's brains. I'm a large fan of Twitter, which is texting on a wide scale - intimate, voyeuristic, addictive, and --
Hold on, I have to twitter this.
Am writing a column about texting right now
Hit send ... there. Sorry. Where were we? Never mind. Anyway, some people say texting and twittering is another factor in our fractured attention span LOOK, A DOG! Over there. Cute!
Anyway, some people say texting is another sign we can't keep our minds on the task at hand, which is often defined as "not getting run over by a bus." Thursday's paper had a story on the latest Modern Worry, Inattentive Texting. People are crossing busy streets, thumbing inanities on their screen, and bang: jam on a taxi grill.
We shouldn't make light of it. There have been deaths. Two. In both cases the victims were struck by cars while crossing the street typing on a cell phone screen. Famous last words, as the cliché has it.
The answer to this problem is simple, and I'm annoyed that these scare-of-the-week "journalists" haven't tumbled to it yet. We need an iPhone app that uses built-in GPS to fix your location, connects with the city's traffic management infrastructure, and sends you an alert that the light is about to change.
You're thinking: I could be halfway across the intersection before I read the email. Please: email? Do you also have flocks of pigeons on the roof in a cage in case you want to send a message to Mayor LaGuardia?
No, the alerts to stop texting would come in the form of a text message; if you do not manually answer, "Okay, whatever," in reply, the phone would dial 911 and start taking pictures of the car about to hit you, which would be helpful if you have to go to court to sue the person who ran you down. Because the driver was probably texting as well.
Let us now dash cold water on this Looming Crisis. The article said:"The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has no national estimate on how common texting-related injuries are."
They also don't collect statistics on the number of people who fell out of a hot-air balloon and landed in a well filled with leprechauns, or the number of people who people who made a point of seeing the latest Woody Allen movie the day it opened instead of waiting for the DVD, for the same reason. It doesn't happen much. But it has happened:
"Among the reports it has received: a 13-year-old girl suffered belly, leg and arm burns after texting her boyfriend while cooking noodles."
OMG n00dl brnz!
The American College of Emergency Physicians also warned against texting while rollerblading, and while that might be a problem, more people are injured annually rollerblading while rollerblading.
Said the spokesperson for the group: "We don't want to sound like some stern schoolmistress, telling people don't text on your cell phone, but when you're texting, look around," he said.
True. I want a cell phone that delivers, at random, an immobilizing electrical shock that forces the user to stop, after which the smell of roses wafts from the earpiece. But I don't want to sound like some stern headmaster, telling people to seize the pleasures of life around them instead of staring at a screen, to carpe diem -- especially since spellcheck might render that Carp Dim, which could be a new Asian fusion restaurant, and people might think that's where you're going for lunch.