Satire Essay Texting And Driving

Howard and I took on Texting vs. Drinking while driving in the Perpetual Post.

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In the brief history of cell phones, has there ever been a critical text message?  One which actually helped to avert a crisis?  Not a ‘your ex is at the party!!’ crisis.  I’m talking a genuine disaster, prevented by a buzzing cell phone with a postage-stamp-sized message of 160 characters or less?  No.  I’m pretty sure not.  They don’t even use that shit on 24.  If Jack Bauer needs to let someone know that a building is about to explode unless they cut the blue wire, he calls.

This is why I am unsympathetic toward texting while driving:  because it’s never urgent.  At the very least, it’s never more urgent than not crashing your car.  Is there anything you might need to say via text message that can’t wait until you are no longer responsible for keeping a moving vehicle from hitting anything?

Or maybe you text in the car because you’re bored.  Is just plain driving not interesting enough anymore?  Watching the scenery hurtle past you at 60mph while other cars weave in and out of your way doesn’t hold your attention the way it used to?  Then pull over.  Maybe you’ll like walking better.  Because you’ll be doing a more lot of that when you flip your car over a median because you were texting to let your friend know that you’ve been thinking of trying out for The Amazing Race.  Actually, scratch that.  At that point, you’ll be thrilled if you’re walking.

Before I continue to get my crabby geezer on, I would like to note that I am a huge fan of texting.  I don’t really know what I like about it so much; but since I manage to send about nine million texts a month, there must be something about the format that appeals to me.  Still, even when a blinding flash of brilliance strikes while I’m in traffic and I feel the overwhelming urge to express it to someone via text, I hold my thumbs.

I’m not saying it’s easy.  We as a society are accustomed to multitasking to the point of utter uselessness, and we have conditioned ourselves to expect instant gratification.  We want same day delivery and 24 hour customer service.  We put pizza on a bagel so we can eat pizza anytime.  Nobody listens to voicemails anymore; even text messaging is apparently beginning to fall by the wayside as people begin to IM each other through their phones.

But there are still some things you have to wait for, and texting, if you’re driving, is one of them.  Just like you have to wait until you get out of the tub to use your hair dryer.  Some things are just so dangerous that they’re not worth doing in the instant they occur to you.  Unless it’s worth risking life and limb to let your old roommate know that it’s Shark Week, wait until you get where you’re going.

In the brief history of cell phones, has there ever been a critical text message?  One which actually helped to avert a crisis?  Not a ‘your ex is at the party!!’ crisis.  I’m talking a genuine disaster, prevented by a buzzing cell phone with a postage-stamp-sized message of 160 characters or less?  No.  I’m pretty sure not.  They don’t even use that shit on 24.  If Jack Bauer needs to let someone know that a building is about to explode unless they cut the blue wire, he calls.

This is why I am unsympathetic toward texting while driving:  because it’s never urgent.  At the very least, it’s never more urgent than not crashing your car.  Is there anything you might need to say via text message that can’t wait until you are no longer responsible for keeping a moving vehicle from hitting anything?

Or maybe you text in the car because you’re bored.  Is just plain driving not interesting enough anymore?  Watching the scenery hurtle past you at 60mph while other cars weave in and out of your way doesn’t hold your attention the way it used to?  Then pull over.  Maybe you’ll like walking better.  Because you’ll be doing a more lot of that when you flip your car over a median because you were texting to let your friend know that you’ve been thinking of trying out for The Amazing Race.  Actually, scratch that.  At that point, you’ll be thrilled if you’re walking.

Before I continue to get my crabby geezer on, I would like to note that I am a huge fan of texting.  I don’t really know what I like about it so much; but since I manage to send about nine million texts a month, there must be something about the format that appeals to me.  Still, even when a blinding flash of brilliance strikes while I’m in traffic and I feel the overwhelming urge to express it to someone via text, I hold my thumbs.

I’m not saying it’s easy.  We as a society are accustomed to multitasking to the point of utter uselessness, and we have conditioned ourselves to expect instant gratification.  We want same day delivery and 24 hour customer service.  We put pizza on a bagel so we can eat pizza anytime.  Nobody listens to voicemails anymore; even text messaging is apparently beginning to fall by the wayside as people begin to IM each other through their phones.

But there are still some things you have to wait for, and texting, if you’re driving, is one of them.  Just like you have to wait until you get out of the tub to use your hair dryer.  Some things are just so dangerous that they’re not worth doing in the instant they occur to you.  Unless it’s worth risking life and limb to let your old roommate know that it’s Shark Week, wait until you get where you’re going.


Posted by guyincognito42 in Humor, Perpetual Post, Uncategorized

While driving down the 405 the other day, I read a dumb article on my smart phone. An LA Weekly blogger boasted that even though it's illegal, he texts and drives and isn't sorry about it. The piece was accompanied by a photo of a very cool-looking dude in the driver's seat of a car with his left hand on the wheel and his eyes on a texting device in his right hand. The blogger framed his crime as a kind of libertarian act of civil disobedience, except for the civil part, the part about accepting the consequences of one's actions.

I waited till traffic slowed way down so I could read the piece more carefully. When I zeroed in on the writer's claim that it was okay for him to text and drive because he was a good multi-tasker, I realized that the piece was a parody -- and a darned good one -- of the faux-rebelliousness of the terminally hip.

The next day, while my car and I were crawling along Wilshire Boulevard at rush hour, I got bored and decided to Google around on my iPad to see how readers were reacting to the satire. It turned out not everyone got the joke. At mediabistro, the Weekly's editor defended the blog from critics who took it seriously and were appalled that anyone would be pro-texting/driving. The editor argued that most everyone texts while they drive, including the very hypocrites who took umbrage at the blog. When she described herself as a "chronic speeder," a clever diversion, I figured her defense of the indefensible was a meta-put on.

Later that day, at the intersection of Mulholland and Coldwater, I myself stood up to The Man by flouting the silly law that says you can't run a red light even if no one is coming from the opposite direction. (Which is every bit as ridiculous as the prohibition against rolling through stop signs if hardly anyone's around.) Mid-flout, I read an incoming text from a veteran alt weekly watcher who said that while he was driving to work, he received, via Google Alert, the news that the Weekly blogger had seen the error of his ways -- he would continue to text while driving but from now on he would feel guilty about it.

At that point, I didn't know whom or what to believe. Was the blogger making fun of the morons who think law-breaking is okay as long as you feel bad when you do it? Or was it possible that he actually meant what he wrote?

I needed a reality check. So the next morning, as I backed out of my driveway with my left hand on the wheel, I used my right hand to tap out a text to the vet alt weekly watcher, who I knew would be driving to the gym. He quickly texted back that the whole thing had to be a brilliant put on. "After all," he texted, "no self-respecting journalistic enterprise would defend texting and driving and then issue the kind of non-apology apology usually reserved for politicians."

Follow Michael Sigman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/majorsongs

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