The world will have a generation of Idiots.” Albert Einstein This was the prediction made by Einstein in the 20th Century, long before the age of the mobile phone.
Years later, before he died on April 18, 1955; Einstein made an emphatic assertion that: “It has become appallingly obvious that Technology has exceeded our Humanity.”Even though he was referencing the atomic bomb, the point is still valid. We are becoming slaves to our own technology.
It is happening faster than we can comprehend, and we are on a sure Suicide Mission! On 29th March, 2017, 20 year old Jack Dillon Young crashed his Dodge Truck into a church bus killing 13 who were on a return from a retreat, south of Texas, USA.
Witness road user Jody Kuchler, had been following Young for about 15 minutes before the accident, and had called twice to the local Sherriff’s office to get the young man off the road.
“Son, do you know what you just did?”, asked Kuchler as he lent a rescue hand to the careless young driver. Young’s response?: “I’m sorry. I’m sorry, I was texting.” There you are, Folks! 13 lives senselessly lost because a reckless young man had been text-chatting on his Mobile Technological Phone piece, while driving on a high way!!! ‘What an Idiot’ perhaps Einstein would have thought; but….the damage would have been done, irreversibly.
The madness of Technology has been infecting the world, in a fashion akin to Mass Hysteria; with deaths being recorded across continents. Take the phenomenon of ‘Selfies’ for example, where persons take photo/video shots of self, alone or in groups.
Deaths have been reported by a team US researchers, led by PhD student Hemank Lamba; that 15 selfie-takers died in 2014, 39 in 2015, and 73 in 2016. This trend is estimated to continue, with a rise in the numbers in 2017.
Taking ordinary selfies is no longer enough, as the more ‘daring’ selfie photos you post on social media, the more your followers increase in leaps and bounds! Deaths have occurred from selfie shots from heights, boats, by train tracks, and with weapons.
In India and Pakistan, it is thought to be romantic if one takes a selfie by rail tracks and sends same to a loved one; a sign of never-ending love. In the process, these adventurers get killed by moving trains.
Tipping weights have caused many to drown in water from selfie-taking at one end of pleasure beach canoes; while falls from daring heights tops the list of senseless deaths, driven by Technological Craze. In Ghana, the Technology Suicide has begun in innocuous proportion, and this has to be nabbed.
The Ghana version of social media foolhardiness, takes the forms of: Taking selfie shots and posting on snapchat while driving Motor bike riders taking selfie shots with 2 or 3 ‘co-riders’ on their back seat(especially around city airports, and in political convoys/motorcades) Phone-chatting, texting, and whatsapping while crossing busy roads Makin/receiving phone calls, texting-messaging, and whatsapping while driving Hemming selves in their android and mobile devices while neglecting friends on a social outing.
In the 2016 year under review, the Accident and Emergency Unit of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital recorded several Technology-related Road Traffic Accidents, with several casualties and one death. A traffic warden was severely injured when ran into, by a texting driver, and a poor 13 year old got knocked down and killed by a moving vehicle while receiving a mobile phone call, as he crossed a busy road.
Our experience is that Accidents and Emergencies generally increase during the festive periods. We must all, therefore, extend preventive education to our friends and loved ones, as the Easter Period approaches.
The technology craze has not reached maddening heights yet in Ghana, and so the earlier we arrest this scary phenomenon, the better.
The President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in a meeting with transport unions in Kumasi over the weekend, as part of his 3-day tour of the Ashanti Region, urged operators to ensure safety on the roads and reduce the carnage on our roads.
This is a good call, which must also be married with Motor Traffic and Transport laws and regulations. The lowest hanging fruit here, is the police enforcing the ban on driving and use of the mobile phone/smart devices.
Unfortunately, it is not practical to legislate every aspect of our human living, and so there is no law in Ghana, governing crossing the road and using one’s mobile phone; but I guess the law of common sense must prevail here.
Enforcement and Public Safety Education, therefore, are our best bet towards prevention of and control of the emerging Suicide in Technology.
Stay alive this Easter period and beyond; Ghana needs you.
Author: E.K.P. Kwarko (MD,MPH