Busy Can Become Stupid

February 27, 2007

I am trying desperately to figure out this article from the Sacramento newspaper, and its implications for our society. Here is a clip to get a flavor of it:

A 28-year-old Chico man was killed Monday after he lost control of his car while working on his laptop computer while driving, according to the California Highway Patrol.

“We have reason to believe he was operating his laptop because it was still on and plugged into the cigarette lighter,” said CHP Cmdr. Scott Silsbee.

Shortly after 8:35 a.m., the CHP received a report of a head-on crash on Highway 99 south of Yuba City between O’Banion Road and Highway 113.

In the past, I have read of people reading the newspaper while driving, changing their clothes, and even practicing their violin on the way to a rehearsal. I have personally witnessed people putting on eye makeup, text-messaging on cell phones, and disappearing altogether from the driver side going “who knows where”.

But what does all of this mean? One part of our culture calls this multi-tasking, meaning that all of these functions can, and should, be performed at the same time. Last week, we witnessed someone almost get into an accident lighting a cigarette and my father-in-law said he felt that should be outlawed: smoking in a car. Though few would agree with FIL, many people are currently debating which tasks should be allowed while we drive. Which would we allow a pilot to do while flying? Which would we allow a surgeon to do while surgering (or is that ‘surging’?)?

The busyness of our lives has pushed us to the breaking point. And I mean that as someone caught up in the rush (somewhat). Next week, I will be presenting a seminar on how to bring some sanity back into our busy lives. After the seminar is completed I will post some of the ideas here. But what do you think…what causes sane people to do some of the things that are being tried in cars these days? Is it a sign of the times?



  1. cell phone use is the biggest culprit. I can’t wait until July when cell phones are banned from being at the ear while driving. Multi tasking is great, just outside of the car. But I think it comes down to our society’s attitude that “it’s all about me”, even if it puts others at risk. Go to http://www.ignitermedia.com and look at the clip of meChurch. That sums it up.

  2. Wow anon…I’m not sure what the “mechurch” has to do with this frantic pace we’re living, but that video is awesome. It hits home in a way that a sermon probably won’t. Thanks for the tip.

  3. I think that we have become too comfortable in our cars. Many people carry over what they do in their homes to what they do in their cars…which includes turning off their brains!

  4. I think our society is so used to a high level of sensory input that we get bored in the car.

  5. Business and technology must bear much of the responsibility for this spirit of impatience that has infected most of us. After all, commerce wants work done faster and faster, and technology keeps making the machines to “help” us work faster and be more productive. The computer and the BlackBerry have become nothing more than sweatshop tools for many workers, and it’s hard to leave that spirit behind when we leave work. How many of you find yourself tapping your fingers with impatience when the screen takes a few extras “seconds” to load on your computer?

    This busyness is killing us, but it feels sooo productive. We could probably cut healthcare costs in half by simply outlawing multi-tasking.

  6. Anon (last one) … you are so right. As I was reading your comments, I was tapping my fingers. Actually I started to do that years ago when I was learning to type on my IBM Selectric typewriter when I typed a whopping 20 words a minute with 5 mistakes. My life has not gotten any simpler or slowed down except when I deliberately make it slow down. But more about that later.

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