Cell phones, texting cause idiocy outbreaks

From the Aug. 8, 2008, Deseret News

A-ha! Cell phones do cause cancer! Well, maybe.

And text messaging does cause accidents! Well, sometimes.

You've read about these new reports, right?

First, there's the one that says cell phones might cause brain cancer, which comes from Dr. Ronald B. Herberman, director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. He's made public the warning but he also admits that it's based on unpublished data and flies in the face of numerous studies that have failed to find a link between tumors and cell phone use.

So, can constant cell phone use cause brain cancer? Who knows?

However, Herberman is not suggesting that people stop using cell phones. He's suggesting that parents keep them away from the heads of their impressionable, still-developing young children. And, really, is this a bad thing?

OK, so this study needs more study. But another study (my own!) has incontrovertibly proved that cell phones do cause stupidity. C'mon, you know I'm right.

Drivers on cell phones forget how to drive. Employees on cell phones forget how to work. Pedestrians on cell phones forget how to walk. Even bicyclists on cell phones forget how to ride a bicycle, which is the one thing you're never supposed to forget.

Cell phones also reinforce the notion that users are entitled to their outsize sense of entitlement. As in, yes, I am the center of the universe, and if I choose to let my cell phone ring and I take calls in a movie, in a restaurant, at the symphony, in church, during a funeral, well, like the song says, "Ain't nobody's business if I do."

Except that it is. When it causes inconvenience or annoyance to others it becomes everybody's business. To say nothing of how using a phone in the car might cause harm to others.

By the way, I have personally witnessed all of the examples listed above. About the only thing I haven't seen, but which may yet occur, is a funeral where a cell phone goes off in the casket because someone forgot to remove it from the clothing of the deceased.

All of which leads to the text-messaging study, from the American College of Emergency Physicians. Two deaths occurred in separate California incidents when pedestrians were so engrossed in text messaging that they walked into oncoming traffic.

But mainly the ER doctors reported numerous injuries, ranging from a teenage girl who fell off her horse while texting to another teenage girl who burned herself while cooking and texting.

But like the old line about people who can't chew gum and walk at the same time, texting and doing just about anything else under the guise of "multitasking" can get you in trouble.

Granted, most of the accidents related by the ER docs did not cause life-threatening injuries. Statistically, texting isn't up there with mayhem related to guns, fire, driving or dangerous poisons under the sink. But, hey, in text-messaging years, it's still early.

So, as I am now officially the last person on the planet without a cell phone (according to my children), I feel justified in taking the high road and simply saying with all the dignity I can muster, "I told you so."

That is to say, we should be careful about new technology.

And to all my family, friends and colleagues: If I'm not home, I can't be reached.

And you know what? I'm good with that.