On the Street in Washington, D.C., there is this circular sign on the ground.
It says: "Look up! Watch where you are walking."
This is a good reminder, especially on the corner, right before you step off and possibly walk into some ongoing traffic.
People get distracted walking and even texting while driving and they can have big accidents because of this.
But an article by Christine Rosen in the Wall Street Journal takes this notion quite a bit further.
She proposes that people are so busy on their smartphones and tablets that they are either "oblivious to their surroundings" or more likely to want to film emergencies rather than get involved and help someone in trouble.
She has examples including in December 2012, when a freelance photographer took a photo of a man run over by a train instead of trying to help him off the tracks.
However, I am not convinced that it is the computing devices that make people into "apathetic bystanders" or "cruel voyeurs" any more than the salons in the Wild West made people into alcoholics, gunslingers, and patronizers of prostitutes.
Let's face it, people are who they are.
Things do not make us do bad, but lack of self-control and base impulses, poor moral upbringings, brain chemistry and brainwashing, and psychological problems and disorders cause people to behave in antisocial and immoral ways.
If people weren't filming someone being attacked on the subway, then very likely they would be running out at the next available stop or changing cars as soon as they could get that middle door opened.
Those helpful people, good samaritans, and even heroes among us, are not there because they left their iPhones at home that day, but because their conscience tells them that it's the right thing to do, and perhaps that they would want someone to help them or their family member if the situation was reversed.
People like to blame a lot of things on technology, but saying that we are "losing our sense of duty to others because of it" is absurd.
The technology doesn't make the person; the person makes the technology!" ;-)
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)