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I filmed the above PSA to parody society’s obsession with cell phones. Cell phones permeate every phase of our lives – well, at least my life. I have friends who sleep with their phones next to their pillows, some who hold their phones when they dance at clubs, and yes, the friends that put their phones in the air and wave them side to side at a classic rock concert.
I see groups of friends sitting in silence shoveling food into their mouths while simultaneously typing away at their blackberries. I watch as people in restaurants will gently place their cell phones on their napkins at the start of meals, not to be rude (although it always feels that way), but just to stay connected — to what, I’m not so sure.
Not only is this obsession perhaps ruining what are profound and important social bonds, but it may also be dangerous or even life threatening. I am not saying you will die for texting during a movie, although someone may kill you for doing so because it is apparently really annoying (someone almost killed me during a showing of “Eat, Pray, Love”, and it was only during the previews), but I am talking about texting while driving.
The Monash University Accident Research Centre in Australia conducted an experiment using a driving simulator to evaluate the effects of text messaging on the driving performance of young drivers aged 18 to 21 years, given that drivers in this category are more likely than other drivers to use a mobile phone while driving. “Twenty participants drove on a simulated roadway which contained a number of events, including a pedestrian emerging from behind parked cars, traffic lights, and cars turning right in front of the driver.” The results of the study provided evidence that sending text messages while driving is a serious risk for driver safety. The study showed that with text messaging, drivers’ ability to maintain lateral position, and to detect and respond appropriately to traffic signs is negatively affected: “When text messaging, drivers spent up to 400% more time with their eyes off the road than they did when not text messaging.” In the US, a campaign by AT&T has used video from driving simulators to publicize these dangers.
I remember the time before cell phones became so popular, when I would drive down the street and see a frizzy haired man talking to himself and know assuredly that that man was in fact crazy. Now, with Blue Tooth, ear pieces and what-nots, I do not know whether the man’s frizzy hair is simply obscuring one of these devices and he is just talking to a friend, or whether he actually is crazy.