In the brief history of cell phones, has there ever been a critical text message? One which actually helped to avert a crisis? Not a ‘your ex is at the party!!’ crisis. I’m talking a genuine disaster, prevented by a buzzing cell phone with a postage-stamp-sized message of 160 characters or less? No. I’m pretty sure not. They don’t even do that on 24. If Jack Bauer needs to let someone know that a building is about to explode unless they cut the blue wire, he calls.
This is why I am unsympathetic toward texting while driving: because it’s never urgent. At the very least, it’s never more urgent than not crashing your car. Is there anything you might need to say via text message that can’t wait until you are no longer responsible for keeping a moving vehicle from hitting anything?
Or maybe you text in the car because you’re bored. Is just plain driving not interesting enough anymore? Watching the scenery hurtle past you at 60mph while other cars weave in and out of your way doesn’t hold your attention the way it used to? Then pull over. Maybe you’ll like walking better. Because you’ll be doing a more lot of that when you flip your car over a median because you were texting to let your friend know that you’ve been thinking of trying out for The Amazing Race. Actually, scratch that. At that point, you’ll be thrilled if you’re walking.
Before I continue to get my crabby geezer on, I would like to note that I am a huge fan of texting. I don’t really know what I like about it so much; but since I manage to send about nine million texts a month, there must be something about the format that appeals to me. Still, even when a blinding flash of brilliance strikes while I’m in traffic and I feel the overwhelming urge to express it to someone via text, I hold my thumbs.
I’m not saying it’s easy. We as a society are accustomed to multitasking to the point of utter uselessness, and we have conditioned ourselves to expect instant gratification. We want same day delivery and 24 hour customer service. We put pizza on a bagel so we can eat pizza anytime. Nobody listens to voicemails anymore; even text messaging is apparently beginning to fall by the wayside as people begin to IM each other through their phones.
But there are still some things you have to wait for, and texting, if you’re driving, is one of them. Just like you have to wait until you get out of the tub to use your hair dryer. Some things are just so dangerous that they’re not worth doing in the instant they occur to you. Unless it’s worth risking life and limb to let your old roommate know that it’s Shark Week, wait until you get where you’re going.