We get advice all the time, usually from people who have our best interests at heart. We know they do because they keep telling us they do.
“Don’t drink and drive.”
“Don’t smoke in bed.”
“Don’t memorize the lyrics to the songs from High school Musical.” (That, from my daughters.)
Mostly this advice is well-meaning, and deadly serious. (Especially from my daughters.)
What worries me is that this advice, good advice all, may be distracting us from dangers that should worry us as much if not more, dangers that can go unnoticed if we’re driving down the street telling ourselves over and over “Don’t drink. Don’t drink.” Or staying up half the night saying “Don’t smoke. Don’t smoke,” instead of counting sheep. Or yelling at our kids, “Hey, don’t take the remote! Don’t break my High School Musical DVD!”
Rather than these distractions, I want to caution you to pay closer attention to that most dangerous invention of the 20th century, the cell phone.
Here’s the advice we should be hearing:
Don’t text while sleeping.
Most people don’t realize how dangerous texting while you’re sleeping can be. The other night I was texting in bed — not yet asleep, so technically I wasn’t breaking the rule. I was doing it to help me go to sleep. Some people read books to help them go to sleep. But I find my friends so much more boring than books. I usually go to sleep immediately, especially if I look up my tweets. What I didn’t realize was that I went to sleep with my cell phone still on. I rolled over onto it in the middle of the night, and woke up to little beeps caused by my shoulder blades and elbows randomly pushing keys to find I had ordered a Big Biceps Home Gym and a two year subscription to Abs R Us.
“Don’t text while driving.” Not nearly as dangerous as texting while sleeping, still something to be cautious about. I know we’re already hearing this from well-meaning people. Indulge me. Let me be well-meaning for a moment.
Other than watching the Discovery Channel when I can’t sleep and get tired of mumbling, “Don’t smoke,” I don’t have much of a scientific bent. Nevertheless, I indulged in a scientific experiment over the last few weeks. Every time I was cut off in traffic, sat behind someone at a red light long after it had turned green, or had someone drift over into my lane on the freeway, I took a closer look at the driver. Contrary to my Uncle Bod, who has no scientific bent at all, the drivers were not all women. However, they did have one thing in common. They were all on their cell phone. Try this experiment yourself. Unless, of course, you’re too busy talking on your cell phone.
Remember when they used to say “You have a greater chance of being struck by lightening than being killed in a plane crash?” Now I hear them say, “You have a greater chance of being killed by a cell phone than being killed in a plane crash.” Which doesn’t make me feel better about flying, just afraid to go on the freeway. I drive down the freeway chanting to myself “Don’t drink. Don’t drink.” But it doesn’t do any good, because I’m sure you’re out there as well, on your cell phone — and that just makes me want a drink.
The State of Texas (always well-meaning) has taken the first step. Notice those signs next to the School Zone 20 Miles Per Hour? Signs that say No Cell Phone Use, Up to a $200 Fine? I didn’t think so. Too busy on your cell phone.