Laws won’t make dim smartphone users bright


  • TECH
  • Monday, 17 Jul 2017

A pedestrian views a smartphone while passing in front of the CN Tower in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on Friday, May 19, 2017. Ontario is easing rules for its pension funds as years of low interest rates, poor equity returns and a looming retiree glut pressure companies. Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg

Any parent or grandparent, aunty or uncle, teacher or principal or responsible older sibling knows the frustration of having to say ridiculous things to a clueless child. 

"Preston, don't stick wasabi peas up your nose. They might get stuck and then I have to take you to the emergency room. Peas don't belong in your nose. Isn't the wasabi part sore? Come on!" 

"Kylie, you cannot paint your lips with nail polish. Nail polish is for fingernails. Yes, it's a nice colour, but it's going to make you sick. Because it's not for your mouth. It's for your – wait, did you put in on your eyes, too? Aw, come on!" 

"Brandon, don't put a metal fork in the toaster. Don't put it in the microwave either. Don't put a metal knife in either the toaster OR the microwave. Brandon! Put down that spoon! You like die? Come on, already! Enough!" 

Pity Hawaii lawmakers who find themselves having to assume the role of the exasperated parent telling foolish children to not do stupid things that tempt death. 

This week, the Honolulu City Council passed a bill that would ban pedestrians from looking at their cellphones while crossing the street. 

Seriously, come on. Do people really need the threat of a US$15 (RM65) fine to keep themselves from walking into traffic while they're watching the day's viral video or looking for love on Tinder? 

Guess so. 

This is just the latest in a number of daffy and potentially dangerous things people are doing that are technically not against the law. 

Like drinking all day in the sun while floating in a plastic flamingo past the surf break in Waikiki and almost dying of alcohol poisoning. 

Or going hiking along remote streams when there's a flash flood watch in effect. 

Then there are the things that ARE against the law that people just do anyway. 

Like clambering past "no trespassing" signs on dangerous trails and then getting into trouble falling down a pali. 

Like driving while texting or talking on the phone hands-not-free. You know you see that all the time. At night, the phones glow in the cars next to you and you think, "Holy cow, kid, you're gonna get yourself killed and probably take me and my family out with you!" 

Like looking up driving directions while riding helmetless on a moped buzzing down Kalanianaole during rush-hour traffic. Yes! This happens! 

We live in a time when information is so readily available and our phones can do all our thinking for us. We understand things today in ways that are more sophisticated and useful than possibly any other time in history. 

Yet for all the intelligence our technology gives us, our survival instinct has shrivelled, our common sense is on sabbatical. We now need laws and public service campaigns to remind us to wash slug spit off raw vegetables, to keep metal mango pickers off power lines and to look where we're going when we cross the street. — The Honolulu Star-Advertiser/Tribune News Service

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