Thursday, April 29, 2010

Evolution in reverse

Cell phones, and our love/hate relationship with them, are a popular blog topic. Rude patients/customers/doctors who conduct routine calls solely to inconvenience those around them are a popular gripe topic. But that aspect of the damn things isn't what I'm bitching about today.

Millions of years have gone into humans figuring out how to survive danger and carry on the species. But modern technology has turned the clock backwards on this.

In the 1980's video cameras become cheap and widely available. Suddenly, instead of frantically running away from tornadoes, every bozo suddenly felt the need to stop and shoot movies of them, hoping to get 5 minutes of fame on the local news. I'm not talking about trained stormchasers here. These were always local yokels in a car, with their terrified kids screaming in the background, who pulled over to get some once-in-a-lifetime shots of an oncoming funnel cloud as it destroys their house. Nice work.

Similar videos popped up with every earthquake. "Hey! The house is shaking! I'm gonna film this for a minute, then check on the kids!"

But the phenomenon has gotten worse with the invention of the cell phone camera.

Besides the obvious dangers of distracted driving, now every disaster is accompanied by people frantically whipping out cell phones. Some take pictures of it. Others feel it's a great time to call friends. "Yeah, the building is on fire. You wouldn't believe it. I should probably leave soon. How was the poker game last night?"

It's obvious to anyone that you can run faster if you swing BOTH arms. So if you're running for your life, it would seem counter-intuitive to swing only one. Right? Now let's look at this screen shot from CNN earlier this year, of people fleeing aftershocks of the Chilean earthquake.

Yup. Both of them are running, and talking into cell phones (not to mention the person who stopped to take their picture).

"Yeah, It's a bad aftershock. I hope it doesn't knock over the cell phone transmitter antenna. If it does, I don't know how I'll be able to call Marta to tell her about the aftershocks."

Imagine you're a prehistoric man in a cave. Suddenly a saber-toothed tiger walks in. Your reaction, sensibly, is going to be either to run like hell or find a club. Somewhere along the line our intelligence allowed us to survive these encounters.

But nowadays people are different (I'd like to thank my reader, Lee, for sending this):

'A bobcat walks into a bar . . .'
March 27, 2009, 6:55 p.m.
The Arizona Republic

COTTONWOOD, Arizona- A bobcat walked into a roadside bar in Cottonwood.

What happened next was not a joke but "pandemonium," two or three minutes of chivalry, cell phone cameras and people jumping on top of pool tables to get out of the way. When it was over, two people were scratched and bleeding, and the rabid bobcat was killed by police in a parking lot on Main Street.

At about 11:40, three people walked out of the Chaparral, a neighborhood bar with signs for Schlitz, Budweiser and Coors over the entrance. Tuesday is free-pool night.

"I said good night," said bartender Scott Hughes, 41. "Next thing I know, they are running back in, followed by a bobcat. One jumped on the pool table, and two more jumped onto the bar."

The bobcat chased two people around a pool table. That's when people took out their cell-phone cameras to get a picture.

People talk about the degradation of morals and the end of society. Hell, we've survived a lot, and I'm not worried about political hysteria from either side.

But sheer stupidity is another issue.


DreamingTree said...

Technology is advanced by highly intelligent people. It is abused by the rest.

Ari said...

To be fair, I'm not sure what running is supposed to accomplish in an earthquake (if you're already on the street). Unless there was a collapsing building *just* outside the borders of that picture, or a huge tsunami immediately behind them (or lava!). It's not like you can outrun the quake itself :)

Celeste said...

I can talk, and I can run, but I can't talk and run for long. One or the other would have to stop within a moment.

Also, running gives me boobquake, and who wants to make an earthquake worse?

The Good Cook said...

Everyone needs to stop running! The bouncing boobs will make the quake worse - oh, wait.. that was proven false on 4/26..

you know what? I think natural disasters are occurring at alarming rates because of excessive cell phone use! YES! EUREKA! Please send my 30 million dollars in US for further research to my personal PO box. Stat.

Mrs. Higrens said...

Despite the government's best efforts to stamp out the Darwin Effect for "our own safety", the Darwin Effect still prevails.

Amazing, isn't it?

Li'l Azathoth said...

And now we know how the world will end. Some idiot will smash up their car by driving while talking on a cell phone, then some other idiot will smash up their car by driving while using their cell phone camera to record the original accident, and so on until it sets off a chain reaction that kills everybody everywhere.

The Mother said...

Okay, just to take the opposite point of view:

The prevalence of cell phone video and the internet is, and will largely be, responsible for the freeing of the world from tyrannical, theocratic regimes who believe in beating people who vote incorrectly or who riot in the street.

The Twitter revolution got video out, quickly, from Iran. These regimes will have nowhere to hide.

donna said...

OMG! I think that aside from certain situations, cell phones
are the 5th circle of hell! Especially in disasters and driving! Either that or the main
purpose of cells is to weed out
the gene pool before they have
a chance to procreate(?).

BTW: Bobcats can JUMP!

Ellie said...

You know, I think if I had a bobcat chasing me around a table, I'd be looking for a stick, not my phone. Although, the whole mental image of it is HILARIOUS.

"Bob! Tom! Keep running! I'm going to put this on youtube!"


Katie said...

Modern society spends much time, effort and money thwarting natural selection. Despite that, you really can't fix stupid.

Captain Foulenough said...

"Are we not men?"

"No, we're Devo!"

bean said...

I was just reading about the homeless man in NYC who was stabbed 3 times in the process of saving a woman from a mugger, only to lie on the street for over an hour, bleeding out, with not a single passer-by stopping to help, by the time anyone called 911, he was dead. One guy even rolled him over and then walked on. And one jerk actually took a picture of him on his cell phone before walking away!

Anonymous said...

Well, I live 700 miles away from my home...the place where I grew up and lived for 26 years. Although I've been gone for 13 years, my family is still there. Many of my friends are still there. If I were in an earthquake and thought I might die, I might whip out my phone and call family and friends to tell them I loved them and say goodbye.

Calladus said...

There's a difference between ignorance and stupidity.

Ignorance is curable.

Stupidity is frequently fatal.

RehabNurse said...


As an out-of-towner who's been to Cottonwood, AZ, my guess is that they all got disoriented. (Those roads are crazy around there!

But unless, I was at a safe height and AWAY from said rabid bobcat, there's no way I'd be taking its picture!

Word verfication: fleesqu

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