Yesterday when I was rushing home to make dinner, I passed a silver Camry going super slow in the middle lane of a busy road. While I try not to get all road-ragey, I did turn to glare a little bit as I passed this car, and discovered that the driver was holding her data phone against her steering wheel and texting as she drove. Apparently steering, texting, watching the actual road and pushing on the gas pedal was more multitasking than she could manage, because she went slower and slower. Then we got to the light at one of Orem's busiest intersections. Her car had already stopped actually moving before she made it to the line of cars, so there was a FOUR CAR length between her car and the one in front of her. (I know because I counted.)
This makes me insane. And grumpy.
I confess: if I am stopped at a red light and I know it's one that will take a long time to turn green and I have a text waiting, I will read it. At the red light. But I sort of have a Thing about Not Texting While I am Driving. The thought of getting in a car crash and possibly killing someone simply because I neededto write something to someone right then while I was driving is horrifying to me. I don't want to risk it. I'm sorry if this offends anyone, but I think that texting and driving is completely and utterly selfish. What is so important that you must text it while you are driving? And if it really is that important that your message goes out right this second then pull your damn car into a parking lot and write your text there instead of putting everyone else on the road around you in peril.
But you know what bugs me even more? the iFans. I don't mean people who just happen to love their iPhone. I mean the people who are obnoxious and ostentatious about it. The iFans. One example is a member of my extended family (who doesn't read my blog but shall remain nameless on the odd chance that she might). At a family Christmas party I listened to her go on and on and on about how much she loves her iPhone and her iPad and how awesome it is and how Apple is just the most amazing company ever in the existence of companies. "I mean, I just can't use anything other than Apple products. I just can't. I honestly don't know how anyone can."
I honestly can't think of one single product or company I am that dedicated to. I love my Burt's Bees chapstick but if I need some lip balm and some other brand is all I have? OK, pass over that Chapstick brand chapstick! And seriously, I understand. Some people like Macs. Some people (me!) like PCs. (One of the reoccurring dreams I used to have while I was working on my teaching certificate was that some nameless IT guy was making me use a Mac for all my teaching stuff. And I seriously asked, during the interviews while I was looking for a teaching spot, if the school used Macs or PCs. The high school where I taught did, in fact, use PCs. I think an all-Mac high school would have gotten a "no thanks" from me.) I understand that you get used to how things work and you like the way it operates and looks and feels. I get that because I don't want to switch to a Mac.
But the slavish dedication to all-things-i? I just don't get it. More than not getting it: I think it's ridiculous. It's fatuous and fabulous and, well—flashy, I guess. The iFans aren't just about using what they own. They're about making sure that everyone else knows what they own. They want everyone to convert to their iReligion, which is ironic because hello: if everyone converted then who would you make feel inferior to you for not owning an iSomething?
Honestly, what this all does, more than anything, is discourage me. It reminds me of how we as a society are changing, pinned as we are becoming to our devices. This week's Time had an article about how our brains are in The Cloud---it is literally harder to learn and remember something if you think you can just google it instead. (There are research studies to support this idea.) Devices, be they iSomethings or Androids or our PCs or our Macs or whatever, affect our physical selves. The way that iAnything is a status symbol will only fuel this connection. And while the technology is great, I still think we are too connected to it.
Don't get me wrong: I'm not exempting myself (even though I am decidedly not an iFan). I know I spend too much time putzing around online. Sometimes I check Facebook from my phone when I should be talking to my kids instead. I refresh my email from my phone too many times when I'm out and about, just to see if I have any blog comments to read. I'm too connected, too.
I just think this: if a person is going to be slavishly dedicated to something, it should be an idea. A belief, a cause, an art. Something that does something for the world. I think we should be slavishly dedicated to fixing the environment, finding alternative energy sources, ending war or curing Alzheimer's or cancer or diabetes or depression. Or hangnails. And I also think this: if you have an iPhone and you love your iPhone, then that is awesome. But what *I* love about you is not the kind of cell phone or table you use. It's how you think and what you say and how you treat people. Not your iPhone. Slavish devotion to devices creates, in my opinion, shallow and meaningless lives.
And it creates people who think it's perfectly fine to text while they're driving.
So, tell me, what do you think about devices?