Distracted minds lead to destructive lives


Living a distracted life is now the American norm; no longer do we pay full attention to anything: eating is supplemented with smartphone or tablet apps, homework is accompanied by music and TV, and driving plays second-fiddle to texting.

This lack of attentiveness, especially behind the wheel, can lead to injury or even death. The SIDNE seminar demonstrated how some of those injuries can be permanent, leading victims to need the assistance of RSC’s Disability Services Office.

ILLUSTRATION: Distracted driver

Some of the injuries endured by our distracted lives are harder to quantify. The viral YouTube video “I Forgot My Phone” demonstrates how the constant use of cellphones distracts us from human interaction.

The video portrays the main character as lonely without her phone, despite being surrounded by people during meals and social activities. Because those individuals are more concerned with their screens than relationships, she feels disconnected and unimportant.


With more than 39 million views, this video must be striking a chord with the multitude of people addicted to distraction.

This writer is not unaffected by such a malady; I’m distracted right now. It’s hard to focus on an editorial about distraction when emails, text messages, laundry and homework pile up more and more with each passing second. How can I be expected to worry about word count when I’m busy counting the number of dishes that need pre-washing?

It’s actually amazing that young Americans are as focused as they are; according to www.distraction.gov, only 11 percent of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. Although this age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted—at least 25 percent of teens admitted to distracted driving due to cell phone usage—it seems a miracle the number of fatalities isn’t higher.

However, injuries are on the rise. Distraction.gov estimated 421,000 people in 2012 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver, a 9 percent increase from the estimated 387,000 people injured in 2011.

To curb this problem, adults need to start setting good examples. Ten percent of parents admitted that they have extended, multi-message text conversations while driving, according to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. 

I imagine this numbers is significantly higher; what is defined as “extensive” when five seconds of texting at 55 mph equates to driving the length of a football field?

As responsible citizens, it’s time to set down the phone, talk as a family during meals or commutes, and turn off the TV. If distraction persists, incorporate meditation and exercise into the daily household routine. Healthy diets also can go a long way toward increasing people’s attention spans.

Should a dose of reality still need administering, read the stories of the victims and their families whose lives were destroyed by people too distracted to notice how their actions impact others.




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