Ravinder Singh is a bestselling author. In his books I Too Had Love Story and Will You Still Love Me? he passionately advocates the need for road safety. In our new release, Your Happiness was Hacked authors Vivek Wadhwa and Alex Salkever talk about the importance of detaching from technology in order to lead more enriching lives and one of the issues that they deal with is the use of electronic devices while driving, which have led to increasing cases of accidents
Writing in a similar vein, Ravinder Singh addresses the dangers of using smart phones and how we can use smart devices under checked measures:
Research says that an average smartphone user checks his phone every six and a half minutes. Pretty consistent, isn’t it? But is this consistency something that we should be proud of?
Let us look at the bigger picture for a moment. Smartphones are the product of technology, something that was meant to save our time, make us efficient, and simplify our lives; but we know anything in excess is way more harmful than not having it in the first place. Nothing demonstrates this better than the perils of technology. In fact there is evidence that excessive use of technology can begin to actually rewire our brains to make us less adept at dealing with real human connections.
Linda Stone, who worked on emerging technologies at both Apple and Microsoft, coined the term “continuous partial attention”. This is the state of always being partly tuned into everything, and never being completely tuned into anything. In simple and millennial language: FOMO (Fear of missing out).
And this FOMO is exactly the reason why an average smartphone user checks his phone every six and a half minutes! Of course, there is science behind technology rewiring our mind in way that FOMO becomes our constant state of being, but that’s a different discussion altogether.
In 2016, using mobile phones while driving led to 2100 deaths in India. And these are just the reported figures, released by Ministry of Transport.
It’s not that we are not aware of the fatal risks involved in using mobile phones while driving, but we are so anxious about missing out on calls or social media updates, that we completely ignore the fact that this could cost us our life! By using mobile phones while driving, we not only put our lives in danger, but also the lives of others on the road.
This is not the not the first article that talks about the importance of using technology consciously to ensure road safety. It won’t be the last either. Enough has been said about the dangers, the accident figures, and risks involved. Let us discuss what each one of us can do, to ensure that we don’t fall victim to “distracted driving”, a concise term for falling prey to FOMO while driving:
On the surface:
- Find a safe spot:
Should it be urgent to attend to that call/text, find a safe spot, stop the car/bike, and then attend to it. Period. No alternate option here.
And this is not just for the time when you are driving, but also for the moments when someone else is driving the car, and they receive a phone call. Agreed, not every person would take that nudge positively, but how about leveraging the power of reverse psychology here? For instance, when my cab driver receives a call while driving, I don’t question or snap at him, instead, I very patiently tell him – I understand your call is important, but please stop the car on the side, and then attend to it. And voila! In most cases, the driver then chooses to not attend to the call at that moment. This simple nudge, in a positive way, triggers an awareness in the driver’s mind, which leads to him feeling not-so-good about wanting to attend an unnecessary call while driving, and he is then able to better prioritize the importance of attending or not attending to that call, in that instance.
- Judicious use of time at the traffic signal:
Agreed, more often than not, traffic signals can be boring and long, and a quick call or response to a text can be accommodated. But again, a ‘quick’ call or ‘a’ text. Getting into a long conversation, while waiting at the traffic signal and not disconnecting the call when the signal turns green, brings you back to square one.
- Connect with yourself:
In her widely acclaimed book Thrive, Arianna Huffington says, “Technology allows us to be so hyperconnected to the outside world that we can lose connection to our inner world”. With corporates and societal pressure pushing people to be connected and available all the time, this couldn’t be more true.
And what does this result in? An anxious mind, a stressed body, and a robotic lost soul, functioning on auto-pilot! How about using your driving time to connect with yourself? How about utilizing this driving time, as your “me” time? Isn’t that something we all need, but just can’t seem to have time for?
So, start by turning your phone on silent, no vibration, and not synced with the car audio system. And then, choose what you want to do with your “me” time. It could be anything: listening to the music you love, practising mindfulness (ways to do this while driving are widely available) or just enjoying the journey!
- Use Post-its!
Sounds cliched, but extremely effective! Nobody gets up every morning and says to themselves, “Today I am going on have an adventure by talking on phone while driving, because although fatally risky, it gives me the thrill!”. We do what we do, out of habits of convenience that we formed over the years.
Naturally, when you try to change them now, your mind will resist the change. You might turn your phone on silent one day, and then forget from the next. Isn’t this what that happens every time we try to change a habit? The mind loves to be rigid and can trick you into giving up.
A simple reminder, put on your dashboard in a visible spot, can centre you back, remind you the purpose of what you are doing, and hence help you sustain the activity, till it becomes a habit.
Remember, your life is precious. You are precious, for this world, for the people around you, and the people waiting for you back home!
Your Happiness was Hacked turns personal observation into a handy guide to adapting to our new reality of omnipresent technology.