Texting while … flying???

Texting on a keyboard phone
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According to several news reports, including one from Minnesota Public Radio (Pilot distractions raise concerns | Minnesota Public Radio NewsQ) the two pilots who flew past their destination, forgetting to land the plane, were not drunk. Nor were they sleeping. No, they were … well, having screen time with their laptops, perhaps the pilot equivalent of texting while flying.

Just a few weeks ago, surveys showed us that most people think texting while driving is not entirely safe – except when they do it.  MPR interviewed folks who bore out the data. One said,

“If I’m in a rush or have a lot of things on my mind, I’ll definitely do it,” she said. “But I try to be more conscious about it. I have a pretty good feeling that most, a lot of people do it, even though, like me, they know they shouldn’t.”

The pilots were not supposed to be using their laptops while flying – they may lose their jobs over this.  It is certainly compelling evidence of the seductive power of readily-available internet and interactive devices.

I’ve experienced this first-hand in the few weeks since getting my first cell phone – a BlackBerry.  The same things that make it a useful tool – the ability to reply to email from students in spare moments, for instant – also make it a terrible distractor.

My mind wandered while I was in a lecture recently – they were going over something I already understood – and, somehow, I instantly had the thought to check my email. Why? I never had that thought in class before – and I did not expect any earth-shattering news.  The simple fact that the device was there and ready to go made it possible.  The psychogical pay-off, the sense of having accomplished something, lures us in.

I’m glad we have laws about texting while driving – but for all the rest of life, we still need to exert control over ourselves – before we fly past our friends and family, leaving them behind with our eyes glued to little screens.

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One comment

  1. Fantastic blog. As seductive as it is and easy for adults to get sucked into the electronic world, what concerns me most is the children growing up since the e-revolution that are going through childhood and adolescence with conditioned to instant gratification. Instant responses within social lives, entertainment at the fingertips, what are we being conditioned to in this world of instant gratification?

    It makes it easier to have the resolve to break ones own bonds when you see how much others lose themselves to the electronic world.

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