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Archive for Sunday, April 15, 2012

Boomer Girl Diary: Texting can be a pain in the neck

April 15, 2012

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Attention soon-to-be-graduates and displaced boomers looking for a new career:

The jobs of the future aren’t in plastics. They aren’t in law, rocket science or even Botox. If you want a vocation that will be both lucrative and personally rewarding for decades to come, think chiropractic.

How did I reach this ground-breaking projection? Allow me to explain:

Every day, I drive to and from my job downtown through scores of students walking to and from Kansas University’s campus. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but college kids aren’t necessarily inclined to obey rules of traffic — vehicular or pedestrian. Since I treasure my “preferred driver” insurance status, I drive defensively at a great-grandmother’s pace, stopping mid-block while young mobs traverse my streets wherever they want and without warning. (Crosswalk? Dude! What’s a crosswalk?)

Last Tuesday, as I drove home from work, the neighborhood teemed with students scurrying back to their rooms after a long day. Half — no, two-thirds! — were walking with their heads hanging low, eyes cast downward, fingers flying on their cellphones.

One girl was so engrossed in digital conversation, she jaywalked right into a parked car. KA-BLAMMA!!! Her so-called friends buckled in laughter, snapped her picture, then took to their Twitter apps: “omg!! lol!>>>@Brand_ee just body-slammed @DannyD’s Jeep #klutz #walkmuch? Plz RT!!”

Thankfully, Brand_ee was able to shake it off and have a good laugh. I watched as she readjusted her backpack and assumed the position, phone between opposing thumbs: “OMG DON’T RT THAT TWITPIC >>@MAGGIE_MAY, I WAS NOT DRUNK! #thatawkwardmomentwhen #ouch #concussion”

I shudder to think what happened to the young man who craned his neck to watch while trying to text as he rounded the 11th Street curve… ON HIS BIKE!! (No, I’m not kidding. I wanted to scream at him, but feared it would upset his already-delicate balance.)

As long as there are cellphones, every one of us is an accident waiting to happen.

Hmm. Maybe the way to go is emergency medical technician.

A quick Google check reveals text-related accidents are nationally on the rise:

In January, CBS News broadcast security camera video of a Reading, Mass., woman who, while walking and texting, did a belly flop into a shopping mall fountain. I’ll admit, I laughed so hard I almost passed out, but she could have gotten hurt!

A Staten Island teenager, distracted in the same way, fell into an uncovered manhole, dropping five feet into a “pile of muck.” Fortunately, the girl and her phone were found unharmed before her battery ran out.

Last week, a man in La Crescenta, Calif., was rambling down the street, his attention diverted by a compelling text exchange, when he came inches away from having some real FaceTime with an escaped black bear.

Imagine that text: “omg!! lol!>>>Almost body-slammed #blackbear @corner Mayfield&Briggs #klutz #walkmuch? #zoofail RT!!”

We all know the dangers of texting while driving. Who knew texting while hoofing could get you mauled by a grizzly?

And that’s not the worst of it. Doctors have now identified a syndrome called “text neck,” a condition that causes neck strain, headaches and pain in the shoulders, arms and hands — all due to people hunching over their phones, laptops and tablets.

“This is a global epidemic,” says Dean L. Fishman, chiropractor and owner of the Text Neck Institute in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who counts among his patients a 3-year-old video game addict. “And it can cause debilitating pain that lasts a lifetime.”

In fact, Fishman trademarked the term “text neck” as a more relatable term than the old diagnosis: forward head posture. (He’s no fool, that Fishman.)

Which brings me around to my original career suggestion. We’re going to need a slew of professionals to help us work out the kinks in our collective posture: Chiropractors, physical therapists, Rolfers, yoga instructors. It’ll take a village to straighten us all out.

You think I kid, but the entire evolution of man is at stake. If we don’t do something fast, we’ll be back roaming the earth, hunched over with our necks out of whack, knuckles dragging the ground while we relentlessly pound our key pads.

Imagine the texts THEN: “OMG! LOL. #thatawkwardmomentwhen Just body-slammed @NeanderthalMan! #homosapienserectus #hesactuallykindahot.”

— Cathy Hamilton is the executive director of Downtown Lawrence, Inc., author of 16 books and blogger at boomergirl.com. Contact her at cathy@boomergirl.com.

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