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My Name Is (insert your name) And I'm Addicted to Texting

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On: Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 5:03PM | By: Karen Cook

My Name Is (insert your name) And I'm Addicted to Texting

People are strange. Generally speaking, a large percentage of the population does things that aren’t good for them. Lunch is often comprised of some sort of quickly prepared greasy meat with a side of greasy starch and washed down with a sugary bubbly concoction. Whatever happened to food groups? Before heading back to the tasks for the day this “meal” may be followed by a long cylinder of nicotine to calm the nerves. People know this isn’t healthy and that eventually this sort of hedonism can kill them. So what causes us to do these things? Doing something we like with no regard for the consequences is addiction, plain and simple. The examples above, along with alcohol and harder drugs, are physical addictions which causes the body to desire whatever it is that we shouldn’t have. It’s hard to say no.

With that in mind, there are other addictions which at first blush are not physical but just as hard to say no to. According to Dr. David Greenfield, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut’s School of Medicine, texting while driving is an addiction like anything else. He says, “We compulsively check our phones because every time we get an update through text, email, or social media we experience an elevation of dopamine, which is a neurochemical in the brain that makes us feel happy.” It’s just as easy to become addicted to this self-made chemical as to any other mood-altering drug and it doesn’t seem that the danger to self and others is strong enough to curb the impulse. 30% of people who admitted they at least glance at their phones while driving try to rationalize this behavior which Dr. Greenfield says is a classic sign of addiction.

AT&T has launched the “It Can Wait” campaign to encourage people not to text and drive. So far, 5.5 million people have made the pledge, including celebrities. The communications company has also made their DriveMode app available for Apple and Android devices. This app silences incoming text messages if a vehicle is traveling 15mph or faster. It disables itself when the vehicle stops. It is also polite enough to tell anyone sending you a message that you are driving. And it tattles. A message will be sent to parents of teens who have the app if it is turned off by the user. At last count there have been 1.8 million downloads.

I get it. Really I do. There’s a scientific reason it’s hard to put down your phone. But there’s also personal responsibility. Kill yourself slowly with fast food and cigarettes if you want, but texting and driving can kill someone else too. Is it worth a small shot of dopamine which will be completely overpowered by the adrenaline your body will release when you realize that someone died while you got your fix?

11-19 arm


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