Deaths Due to Reading Email while Crossing the Street are on the Rise

I'm walking down the stairs, leaving our office at Tides Renewal Centre and I'm behind this other dude in a suit and we are both shuffling along because we are checking our Blackberries while walking downstairs. This strikes me as stupid, but forms the basis of a polite exchange of Crackberry jokes.

Spilling out onto sun drenched Hastings Street, I wonder what will become of us? Like lemmings, we march forward into the centre of a hornets’ nest--the downtown east side on a hot Thursday. How many obstacles will we encounter as we type and walk? I squint and strain to the read the tiny print on my Blackberry’s browser while walking under Woodward’s scaffolding, oblivious to cement being poured above. I stop and open a text message—poised in the middle of an active construction site--to read the message my sweetie has no doubt composed on his iPhone while driving 110 kilometres per hour on the highway.

I flip back to my browser window and type “ban reading email while crossing the street.”

If you want to cross a street in New York City or Buffalo, a New York state senator says, you should be fined $100 if you do so while in a state of "iPod oblivion." (A Ban on iPods While Crossing)

I’m fascinated by regulations against Darwinian self-elimination.  Helmet laws, seatbelt laws, no talking on cell phone laws—all these regulations enacted to prevent us from doing something stupid.  Or hurting other people while doing stupid things.

Part of me wonders whether these laws are just the result of poor manners?  We’ve developed these technologies and adopted them like beloved children, adored with a sudden fierceness.  We haven’t had much time to establish etiquette for their use.  Our passion interferes with our judgement.  Wouldn’t it be polite if people put their toys away and walked smiling down the street, tipping their hats to each other and marveling about the lovely June weather instead?

An old colleague of mine once took me aside and pleaded,  “It’s imperative that you share your ideas about what is appropriate use of the Blackberry with your co-workers.  We can’t have people checking their emails absentmindedly while we are in meetings.”  Where is our iPhone Miss Manners?  Who will save us from being decapitated while walking down the street or giving all our friends the impression we aren’t interested in what they have to say because we are texting instead of listening?

Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network