Habits of Thumb (or Habits of Dumb?)

This startling example of technopoly caused me to pause. We all want to point the finger at this tow-truck driver who texted with one hand and held his phone with the other hand and just happened to drive his truck into a car and a swimming pool. But many of us should hold up a mirror instead.

I guarantee you this didn’t happen overnight. He didn’t get his cell phone(s) and then just start using both of them at once. He probably was a lot like me when I first got a cell phone. I vowed to never use it while driving. But I confess I’ve done it. I have the same nervous curiosity that demands I pick up the phone when it rings, even if I’m driving a machine (a car) with the power to hurt (and even kill) people. Quickly. Before I realize what is happening.

I suggest that what is happening here is a slow descent into the bizarre. Step back and look at it. It’s bizarre to do this. But it didn’t seem like this to the truck driver at the time. He probably said to himself, “Look at what I can do,” in almost the same way a child does when he takes that first step. He’s developed a habit of pushing the risk further and further, until he does something foolish.

Technology has not only taught us that if we can do it, it’s good to do. It’s also facilitated the development of the habits that make it harder to reflect and correct bizarre habits. Small imperceptible steps from very reasonable risks to dumb ones. The wise attend to these steps.

Without reflection and correction, we might just end up in a swimming pool, texting a tweet about somebody else’s facebook status while hyperventilating into our iPhone.

I’d prefer to just drive. I think I’ll try that.

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One comment

  1. Thoughts worth pondering. Indeed it is the small steps of self-deception that get us in big trouble.

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