The Lowe Down

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The dangers of texting


Back in the '90s, when cell phones were becoming all the rage in New York City, a courtesy code developed about their appropriate use.

New York, like Japan, is a densely populated living space, and selfish activities that make life more tedious for the general population are quickly frowned upon, the perpetrators ostracized. There is a code, and it is understood that sticking to the code is what makes the city livable.

Most New Yorkers, at least those who wanted to have friends, learned that talking loudly on a cell in a restaurant would attract rude stares, and often an impolite word or two from table neighbors. The same was true in enclosed spaces like doctors' waiting rooms, where sometimes an involuntary witness to a phone conversation would simply begin reading his newspaper or book out loud to the point where the phone user had to either hang up or leave the room.

What is needed with this texting fad is a sense of shame. Outlawing texting while driving is fine, up to a point--but it's hard to enforce. Mothers Against Drunk Driving managed to accomplish the stigmatizing of an activity. Before they came along, it was hard to convict drunk drivers because juries were sympathetic. "There but for the grace of God go I," and all that.

Americans love to do what is bad for them, especially if it makes them feel good. Take smoking, for example (the analogy is appropriate, because we're talking about addictions that also happen to be harmful to others). Only when driving texters are figuratively "driven out of the building" to stand in shame in the rain--the way smokers are--will the destructive behavior diminish.

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Until we as a state outlaw useing phones without hands free apparatus while driving its a moot point. If and when we do that I think this issue could be raised. Can't put the cart before the horse.

Charlie- Hands free apparatus will help but the problem is not necessarily that they are holding a phone to their ear, but the fact that they are so engrossed in their conversation, they are not paying attention to their driving.

*I agree very much with this article. I find it very rude to go out to eat with friends and they have their cell phone sitting on the table. I've also been cut off many times on the road by people who are not paying attention bc they are either texting or talking on their phone. It's also rude when customers come into my job and are talking on their phone during the entire transaction. One person was swearing while there was someone else's kid standing there to the point that I had to bring his attention to it. And yes, the people who feel they need to yell while talking on the phone so everyone can hear their conversation are also rude & inconsiderate.

It's not only that the american people like what's bad for them and makes them feel good, but also the idea that everyone is out for themselves, and we shouldn't care what other people think. Too much individualistic, not enough community.

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About the author
Chan LoweCHAN LOWE has been the Sun Sentinel’s first and only editorial cartoonist for the past twenty-six years. Before that, he worked as cartoonist and writer for the Oklahoma City Times and the Shawnee (OK) News-Star.

Chan went to school in New York City, Los Angeles, and the U.K., and graduated from Williams College in 1975 with a degree in Art History. He also spent a year at Stanford University as a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow.

His work has won numerous awards, including the Green Eyeshade Award and the National Press Foundation Berryman Award. He has also been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His cartoons have won multiple first-place awards in all of the Florida state journalism contests, and The Lowe-Down blog, which he began in 2008, has won writing awards from the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists.
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