“Ignorance of Reality:” The Cause Of and Solution To
Young people today are distracted in general – zoned out, oblivious, absent-minded. It is of no coincidence that this era of “ignorance of reality” has has closely followed a world-wide spike in smartphone usage. These little computers are always in pockets, laid on tables, and held in impressive juggling contests during meals, offering 24/7 superficial interaction while creating a barrier between us and the real world. Pokemon Go itself is the unfortunately-not-so-metaphorical epitomical image of smart-phone use today; and even this one mobile game has killed at least a few people, and injured many more; in some cases, victims were so attached to their abstract video-game realm that they methodically walked off cliffs or drove through hazardous streets, and collide with unsuspecting bikers, drivers, or pedestrians. It is clear that smartphones, along with all their advantages, pose serious threats to our reality, and the pinnacle of this distraction can be seen unfortunately on roads. Phones not only attack the awareness of the road-side pedestrians, but sabotage the drivers themselves, who wield weapons of mass destruction (moving vehicles) and yet are rendered almost mentally impaired when in the process of using a phone while driving. Yet you may say, only one fourth of all teen accidents are linked to phone use! To which I would respond, first of all, one fourth is a large percentage and worthy of being considered seriously, and second of all, I would go further and say that most forms of teen distraction stem indirectly from the virtual reality that the smartphone so readily offers. The average teen is reported to spend 9 hours a day on their mobile device – and when they are not immersed in their virtual reality, they are constantly thinking about it It has become their life. This is no exception in cars, where being aware is a matter of life and death, and teens all too often are not aware, even if their phones are still in their pockets; they are either reliving a virtual conversation they had, thinking about a funny meme they saw on Instagram, or feeling increasingly worried that their friend hasn’t texted them since 5 minutes ago, and wondering if they said something offensive, and so on. So even though phones may not be on and in physical use during three fourths of all teen crashes, I would argue that they certainly are indirectly related to most teen distraction, which in turn causes most of these collisions. My thesis, in the end, would be this: to focus on the root of the problem of teen distracted driving, we must first trace distraction back to its cause, which I believe to be mobile devices. If we limit mobile device use significantly, I believe that we can, by doing so, decrease the amount of teen car crashes considerably. Moreover, since we cannot ban phones from cars, a software should be developed that allows the phone to be used only when the car has stopped driving. This would be a relatively simple software, since most phones today already make use of their built-in accelerometer to detect movement. This software would force teens to pull over and stop their car before using their phone. Any method could work, but the bottom line is that, if we limit teen phone usage, we can potentially decrease the number of teen collisions considerably.
In the past year, I have been increasingly aware of a generational gap between the young and the old, and this primarily manifests itself in phone-usage. I have read countless articles on how phones distract people, and offer social media services that create extremely short attention spans; In the end, I think all this is connected with distracted driving, but I believe that there is at least a beginning of a solution to this problem that extends far beyond the road and into our daily lives.