Editorial: The Distraction of Technology

From the New York Times: “Slightly more than 1,000 pedestrians visited emergency rooms in 2008 because they got distracted and tripped, fell or ran into something while using a cellphone to talk or text."  Walking into stuff while texting, we've all done it at some point.

Screens everywhere, absolutely unavoidable.

This year, the number of smartphone owners is closing in on nearly half of the UK public.  Imagine that gargantuan amount of people walking/running/driving into stuff...Scary I know.  And then the counterpoint to this would be the handsfree kit and introduction of technologies like iPhone 4S' Siri; but while that may stop people looking down, talking into a smartphone (with or without hands) is still a distraction, (maybe even more distracting with how much you may have to correct yourself based upon your regional dialect misunderstandings).  This is what a study conducted by the University of Utah (2009) concluded from their experiments within the area.

Another scary prospect to this is what the study calls 'inattention blindness.'  To us, these are the times when you lose track of the world and lose recollection of the preceeding moments when asked.  It's eye-opening to relate this to my driving commutes to my (usually late arriving to) lectures of old: sticking your iPod in on the journey, never accurately remembering my swells and fades in acceleration or the traffic levels or the turns you took, and yet you're there in your drive (in one piece).

With all the attempted implemetations of making technology safer to use (while adding Facebook into your car's centre console...disaster), the only realistic solution I've found (especially when annoying people by not paying attention to them talking in favour of working on my Gmail filters) is to just turn everything off.  You owe it to yourself and your safety to spend time 'off the grid:' shut down/hide/turn off everything and focus on the surroundings around you.  The battle against the distraction of technology isn't one that we (and me especially) can win.