Editorial: Ouch! Texters should watch their step

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Recently the American College of Emergency Physicians warned gadget-obsessed multitaskers: Don't walk and send text messages at the same time. You might run into something and hurt yourself.

That the nation's ER doctors felt compelled to advise people to watch where they're going would be comical if it weren't so serious. Apparently, we needed the reminder.

"It's tragic," said the physicians group's director, noting that teens and young adults in particular "are arriving in emergency departments with serious and sometimes fatal injuries because they were not paying attention while texting."

Indeed, with heads down, eyes squinted and thumbs a-typing, those texting on the go are tripping over curbs, falling down stairs and colliding with buildings, light posts and other pedestrians. Downtown Chicago is mentioned as an injury hotspot. The chairman of emergency medicine at Northwestern Memorial Hospital says his staff has treated texting victims nearly every day this summer - often with facial injuries.

Ouch. Perhaps cellular providers should offer free helmets.

Call this phenomenon another symptom of a society so wrapped up in technology that the rest of the world sometimes seems an afterthought. We've witnessed it on Peoria's Grandview Drive, where walkers fidget with iPods while central Illinois' most majestic vista passes by, unappreciated. We've watched it in local theaters, where moviegoers yak on the phone instead of watching what's on the screen. Worse, we've seen it in cars, where drivers fire off text messages - only briefly glancing up to make sure they haven't run off the road.

Being oblivious is not only annoying, it's dangerous.

We're no neo-Luddites. But there's something to be said for being in the moment, aware of your surroundings and of other people. Technology is supposed to complement real life, not replace it. Don't we have plenty of distractions already? Aren't our thoughts fragmented enough? Must we be constantly communica ...

Whoops. Darn telephone pole.

Peoria Journal Star