That is a word that comes around quite frequently these days. We hear it everywhere, from common conversations, to items on the news. It is usually accompanying a story of misfortune. A tale of a distracted driver who ended life’s moments at a tree trunk.
The most common of those distractions come from the phones in our hands. It seems that we, as an entire clump of people, have decided that the occurrences on 5.7 inches of phone screen, are far more important than the reality in front of us.
We text, we game, we Instagram, Snapchat, and we Facebook. We have to get a photo of this, to post online now, so people can see that we are at Ben & Jerry’s getting a triple Chubby Hubby.
I have been guilty of such things. I am not saying it is wrong, or right. But it appears that we have shifted from staying in the “actual” moment, to crawling inside the screen of virtual reality.
I do, however, feel strongly about those individuals who partake in this behavior while driving. If they choose to end their own lives that way, okey-dokey. But there are other people involved. And deciding how THEY die should not really be in the hands of a texting soul.
Some places are worse than others for this. I recently read an article in TIME Magazine concerning this very topic. It appears that Mississippi is the worst of any state in this country for texting while driving. Louisiana, Alabama, and Georgia follow closely behind, with phone use occurring during more than 40% of users’ trips in those states throughout 2017.
Now here is a news flash for you. In the states that regulate drivers’ phone use, guess what happened? Road safety appears to improve in those states. Yeppers. The states with the lowest amount of phone use while driving — Vermont, Oregon, Hawaii, and Washington — have all banned the use of handheld devices behind the wheel.
A BAN. To reduce an errant behavior. What a concept. I wonder if it would work on something like weapons which are responsible for thousands of deaths in the U.S. each year. I wonder.
Anyway. Back to our Smarty-Pants-Phones. Ohio is pretty much right there in the middle of the pack. And, if you were wondering how much of this goes on? Distracted driving claimed 3,477 lives and injured 391,000 people in 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA.
That is about 3,477 too many. All gone for the sake of a text message, or a jump in a game, or a post on social media. Removed from reality. For good.
Distractions. I much prefer the kind we used to have.
I am mostly thinking about sitting at my desk, in the fourth grade, at this time of year. The weather was starting to get nice outside, and those nuns would open the windows in the classroom. I could smell the freshly mown grass, and even feel the fresh breezes sneaking indoors through cracked windows. The sounds of the outside reminded me of the expanse of it all — a plane overhead, a car horn, a bird’s song. Then. Occasionally, a bee would buzz in, putting the group on edge, with its unpredictable flight pattern.
I would sit, though, with my chin in my hand, and gaze out across Odlin Drive. I would look to the world with eyes of amazement, and dream of the places I would go, and play, and explore. Distracted, thinking, wondering, I would go. Distracted.
“My imagination functions much better when I don’t have to speak to people.”
― Patricia Highsmith
“We lead our lives so poorly because we arrive in the present always unprepared, incapable, and too distracted for everything.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters on Life
“Your time keeps flying away into vanity while you dine with your distractions.”
― Sunday Adelaja