Sunday, April 1, 2012

Just Turn It Off

This rant inspired by my plane trip back from D.C. for the 
Reason Rally and 2012 American Atheists Convention:

We all know that traveling via airlines now-a-days is not fun.  Standing in long lines, sitting in uncomfortable lounges, and increasingly cramped into smaller and smaller spaces everywhere we go.  Fortunately modern technology has brought us wonderful distractions to relieve the boredom: smart phones, tablets, computers, music players, portable game systems, etc.  Yes they're great and make the airline experience bearable, but why do people get so unreasonable for the short time they're not allowed to use them?

When considering the hours we spend at airports and in planes is it really so unendurable that we sacrifice using these devices for 15 minutes at take-off and landing?  We all know that those times are the most dangerous in airline travel.  It doesn't matter if Mythbusters showed that cell phones don't really interfere with some airplane instruments.  Does it really kill you to put off playing Scrabble with your nephew or buying a new fleshlight on for 10 minutes?  How about we just pay attention in the unlikely event that something goes wrong.

On my connection back to San Antonio the flight attendants announced that all devices should be turned off.  Then they had to tell a dozen people in their pre-flight check to turn off their electrical devices.  Five minutes later one of the attendants came on the P.A. to tell us that some airports are implementing a series of fines for people who don't turn off their devices at take-off and landing.  I still saw people surreptitiously hiding their active cell phones under jackets or purses.  Does it really have to come to this?  We shouldn't need draconian fines of $5,000 to get people to just follow some simple harmless requests. 

Just leaf through Sky Mall, talk to your neighbor, look through your window.  Just turn yourself off for a few minutes.  What's the worst that could happen?

"One of the things Ford Prefect had always found hardest to understand about humans was their habit of continually stating and repeating the very very obvious, as in It's a nice day, or You're very tall, or Oh dear you seem to have fallen down a thirty-foot well, are you all right? At first Ford had formed a theory to account for this strange behavior. If human beings don't keep exercising their lips, he thought, their mouths probably seize up.

"After a few months' consideration and observation he abandoned this theory in favor of a new one. If they don't keep on exercising their lips, he thought, their brains start working. After a while he abandoned this one as well as being obstructively cynical and decided he quite liked human beings after all, but he always remained desperately worried about the terrible number of things they didn't know about."  -Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

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