Man Without Qualities

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

What's Distracting III

Common sense and experience suggests that some people prefer to be distracted. Such people often have dogs in their homes that could be trained not to pester their masters and guests, but aren't. The masters seem to prefer endlessly and pointlessly telling the dogs to "get down" or the like.

Such policies are often extended to children, who are not discouraged from interrupting their parents (and their parents' social occasions) for even the most minor of requests. If the children don't interrupt the parent, the parent will often do it with a distracted, midsentence excuse along the lines of "I just have to check on Chris, it's been too quiet up there" - even where the "need" could easily have waited to the end of the guest's sentence and where the child is being tended by another adult or in a location in which there is little chance of precipitous mischief.

In a business environment, such people often have no "interrupts discouraged" policies with their assistants for meetings - meaning that even scheduled, in-office meetings are often interrupted by the assistant's intrusion, explained with an airy or self-important "this will only take a minute" and perhaps "I've been trying to reach this guy for days."

And in a car, such people like to use their cell phones a lot - and engage in other automotive "multi-tasking."

But if in-car "multi-tasking" were discouraged by law, would such people simply let their minds drift while driving? It would not surprise me if their "multi-tasking" - including hair-combing, CD-changing, eating, drinking and telephoning - help hold them to the real world of their current, physical environment, thereby decreasing the number of accidents they would otherwise produce.

Or are legislatures prepared to ban distracted people from the road?

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