By Annette Dashofy
I’ve been complaining for quite a while now about people on cell phones tuning out the world. From the relatively benign, but annoying practice of chatting on the phone in the check-out line and totally ignoring the sales clerk (RUDE, people! This is RUDE!) to the downright scary practice of talking and/or texting while driving. Multitasking only works to a point. Something has to suffer. Your brain can’t put 100 percent on two things at once. If I’m walking along the road or riding my bike and you’re in a car—or a tractor trailer—I’d really prefer your attention be on not hitting me rather than on the text message you’ve just received.
But this whole techno-multitasking trend has hit a new low. Or high.
Last week, two experienced Northwest Airline pilots missed their destination city by more than a hundred miles because they were using their laptops instead of paying attention to the instruments and the messages being sent to them by air traffic controllers.
Truthfully, this doesn’t qualify as multitasking. They’d taken their headsets off and apparently were single-mindedly focusing on their laptop software (one pilot was teaching the other how to use it).
Excuse me. Aren’t you guys supposed to be flying the plane??? If a flight attendant hadn’t intervened and basically asked them, “Aren’t we there yet?” who knows where they may have ended up. Would they have noticed if they were about to run out of gas? Probably not.
Since this news broke, I’ve been picturing where this trend will end. Will the space shuttle completely miss Planet Earth and end up at Venus because the crew was busy playing Wii?
Okay, okay, I’m exaggerating.
I hope I’m exaggerating.
I think we all need to learn how to focus. Do one thing at a time and do it well. I can hear the screams now. We’ve become a multitasking culture. How will we ever get anything accomplished if we’re stuck to doing one thing at a time?
And I’m not claiming to be blame-free. I’ve burnt dinner a number of times because I had to run into the other room to check email. But I’m working on it.
I do think, though, if you’re multitasking when ONE of those tasks involves motorized equipment that could potentially maim or kill others, you really should pay attention to the road or sky in front of you. No text message or phone call is more important than another life.
At least the pilots have had their licenses revoked.
So what do you all think? Should cell phone use while driving be outlawed? Do you call or text behind the wheel?