New Jersey Town Bans Texting While Walking

A New Jersey town’s recent ban on texting while walking has captured our attention. Fort Lee, N.J., police will soon begin issuing $85 jaywalking tickets to pedestrians who are spotted texting while walking, according to ABC News.

The decision to ban texting was not a spontaneous one, but rather a legislative reaction to a string of three fatal accidents, all involving pedestrians who were texting while walking.

While some Fort Lee residents are upset with the ban, we think it’s a good way to highlight the dangers of texting while walking – or driving, for that matter.

The ABC News story points to a study by Stony Brook University in New York, which found that texters are 60 percent more likely to veer off course than non-texters, because the act of texting alters their gait when walking. The study also showed that texting interferes with memory.

“We want to raise awareness that a real disruption occurs because of texting,” Eric Lamberg, co-author of the study, told ABC News. “Texting disrupts your ability much more than does talking.”

Juror Tweets Posing Problem for Court System

Jurors’ inability to refrain from posting information about court trials on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook poses a serious threat to the judicial system, with such behavior threatening mistrials and overturned verdicts, according to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal.

In one high-profile case, an accused murderer’s conviction was thrown out after a juror was found to have tweeted about the case on Twitter throughout the trial. The accused on trial, Erickson Dimas-Martinez, was found guilty of murder in March 2010 by an Arkansas jury and sentenced to death for the robbery-murder of a teenager. But in December, the Arkansas Supreme Court set aside the verdict and ordered a new trial – saying a juror who tweeted about the case was guilty of juror misconduct.

In other cases, jurors have been chastised and even held in contempt for “friending” defendants or plaintiffs on Facebook. And this month, a state appeals court in Sacramento, Calif., will hear a motion from defense attorneys in a gang-beating case asking to overturn verdicts against their clients in light of a juror posting information on Facebook during the trial.

Judges typically request that jurors refrain from posting online information about cases they are hearing. The judges are concerned about what jurors may say when they tweet or post, fearing that the jurors may reveal a bias about the case or disclose information that has not yet been made public.

But, while courts routinely impose social media bans on jurors during trials, it is proving quite a challenge to enforce these bans. The Wall Street Journal observes: “At a time when authorities can’t even stop some people from risking their lives by sending text messages while driving,” getting jurors to restrict their social media use is proving  a particularly difficult feat.

 

 

 

Ten Reasons You Know You’re Addicted to Technology

    1. You woke up this morning with a cell phone clutched in your hand.
    2. At dinner, you texted your son to pass the potatoes.
    3. After staring at screens, you now see rectangular objects when you close your eyes.
    4. On a family camping trip, you insist on driving 50 miles to the nearest wireless hot spot.
    5. Your idea of family game night is to break out the Xbox.
    6. You interrupt a romantic evening with your spouse to update your Facebook status.
    7. Your child asks for a playdate — via Outlook
    8. You “speak” with your best friend by email and don’t recognize her actual voice when she calls.
    9. Walking and talking on your cell phone, you almost fall into an open manhole.
    10. You spend your whole trip to the Grand Canyon peering through a video lens.

 

Why Companies Encourage Unplugging

Unplugging from Technology

More and more employers are encouraging their employees to unplug from technology.

Does being plugged in 24/7 make for a better employee?

Not necessarily. According to Time.com, employers are encouraging their employees to find a better work-life balance by taking a break from being constantly connected.

In a recent article, ”Why Companies Should Force Employees to Unplug,” the online news magazine cited companies ranging from Atos and Duetsche Telekom to Google and Volkswagen,  which have recently adopted measures to get their employees to unplug from technology. Volkswagen, for example, deactivates emails on German staff BlackBerries during non-office hours and limits the transmission of work-related emails during non-work hours.  Google famously insists its employees unplug for portions of their workweek, the better to stir creative juices.

But employers are motivated by more than altruism, says Time. The news magazine noted a 2009 Stanford University study, which found that people who are constantly exposed to electronic information don’t pay attention as well or switch from task to task as well as those who prefer to complete one task at a time.

“There’s no priority structure. Everything is urgent. Everything is red flagged,” Nancy Rothbard, a Wharton management professor, told Time.com. As a result, activities that require a great deal of focus — like decision making or writing — get short shrift.

The ability to focus is not all that suffers from our constant connection to technology. Time.com cited numerous studies showing that psychological detachment is important to employees’ health and well being, as well as stress reduction. This well being, in turn, translates to fewer sick days and lower healthcare costs for employers.

Another study by the Harvard Business School found that study participants who were encouraged to engage in regular downtime while carrying out a high-pressure project reported greater job satisfaction, were more likely to envision a long-term career with their firm, and experienced a better work-life balance than those who did not participate in the study.

These are all compelling reasons employees to unplug and reconnect — and for their employers to support them while they’re doing it.

 

Road Construction: Learning to Savor Life

By Joseph Geliebter, Ph.D.

Leo, the building inspector for my village, knows a thing or two about Unplugging and Reconnecting. An Italian immigrant, he grew up in the Italian wine country, where he experienced a simpler way of life.

I met Leo during a road repaving project on my block. When I told him about how the road construction project was forcing neighbors to live a simpler life, albeit only briefly, he immediately appreciated how the benefits might possibly outweigh the inconveniences of having our street inaccessible for a few days.

Leo believes that, like water that flows from the freshest of mountain springs, we’re born to simplicity. The further water flows from its source, the more polluted it becomes. The same is true of our lives, he says. How we choose to maintain the simplicity to which we’re born is up to us.

As might be expected, food – especially savoring a good meal – is very important to Leo and his family. That’s why meal time is Unplug and Reconnect time in Leo’s house.

“We don’t use any technology while we’re eating,” he says. This rule also applies to Leo’s six grandchildren who, he admits, are as attached to their technological gadgets as any of their generation. “We hold onto the old ways at meal times. That’s when we discuss family matters.

Watch the “Road Construction” Video!

Road Construction from Unplug Reconnect on Vimeo.

Once, Leo and his wife were dining out in a restaurant and noticed a couple at the next table. They were “parallel texting” on their cell phones, Leo said. “My wife pointed out to me, ‘I don’t think they’re enjoying the food – their minds are set on whatever they’re texting.’ ”

It’s true. In order to truly enjoy food – to savor a meal or a good wine – one must devote a certain degree of attention and focus on the task. The same could be said about the way we choose to live our lives.

TOMORROW — Dr. Geliebter remembers “Road Construction,” a video classic.