Sunday, December 28, 2008

Don't be a DWIM (Drive While Instant Messaging)

This is a short post, but I got the inspiration to do so as I was driving a few days ago. So I pulled my car over to the side of the road and sent this post to my Blog at Rockland Web Design. You'll notice that I said that I pulled my car over. And that is what I'd like to discuss with you today - how to stop Driving While Instant Messaging, or as I like to call it, "DWIM".

It's the biggest temptation since the advent of cellphones - DWIMming. I'm not sure if that's the way we should refer to the practice, but it seems to have a ring to it...just like the Simpson's foray into Webster's dictionary with the word 'meh'. I can envision a day when teens will be telling their friends "dude - you are such a DWIM." I mean, who wants
to be called that? It's almost like 'dweeb' but with an actual negative connotation to it that is rooted in reality. 

Um, maybe I'm going a little overboard. But I digress...  

I myself am a recovering DWIM, and I am quite ecstatic that our local government in Rockland County, NY is about to enact a law that bans the practice of driving while instant messaging.  Don't ask how this law will be enforced; I haven't the faintest idea. Maybe your local neighborhood officer will now ask you to whip out your mobile device, physically inspect it, and determine what time you sent your last text message, to whom, and how frequently you responded. By the way, the correct response to that request is - "Officer, you are not my girlfriend". Not that I have any experience with that situation. None at all.

According to a recent survey by observed that 47% of drivers 18-24 years old, and 27% of those from 25-34 have sent a text message, instant message or email while driving. So far, four states - New Jersey, Washington, Alaska and Minnesota - have enacted laws banning the practice.

I'd like you all to make the New Years commitment to stop the madness of Driving While Instant Messaging. Thusly, I've devised a simple 12-step program to help you to stop DWIMming. It is fashioned after the classical AA program --- after I wrote the above post from the side of the road, I finished it by going home and checking out Wikipedia's page on the 12-step program. From it, I believe we now have an anti-DWIM version of this well-known program. (Note: the original 12 steps are posted below in their original form to protect their creative integrity.)

So here it is - The 12 Step Program to Stop Being a DWIM:
  • Admit that you have a very, very bad habit of Driving while Instant Messaging ("Hello, my name is Tom...and I am a DWIM.")
  • Recognize that you do not have control over your mobile device anymore - it now has control over you
  • Give yourself over to a higher power and let go, man! (um, or woman)
  • Realize that people may actually wait more than 14 seconds for their message response from you
  • Be conscious of your tendency to reach for your mobile phone while driving
  • Notice any triggering thoughts, feelings or other stimuli that cause you to want to DWIM
  • Track your DWIMs...write down the daily, weekly and monthly running total somewhere (NOT while driving!) Focus on reducing your DWIMs each day, until you get to zero. Hopefully that will happen by later tonight...
  • Check your phone once before you put the car into drive, and once upon arriving at your destination
  • If you check at a traffic light while stopped, that is a grey zone, but realize you may be honked at by annoyed drivers and irritated skateboarders trying to cross the road
  • Turn off beeping/vibrating sounds your phone makes when you receive a message
  • If you must send a message, pull over to the side of the road and do it there. This is safer
  • Encourage other potential DWIMmers to also follow these steps, and make fun of them if they don't.
If all that is too much for you, try this: while you are driving this week, if you get the urge to whip out your phone and stare at the screen in the midst of oncoming traffic, remember this simple phrase: 

"I will not be a DWIM".  

Say it with me now:  

"I will not be a DWIM". 
"I will not be a DWIM". 
"I will not be a DWIM".  

And remember to post your DWIM experiences on our Facebook "Don't be a DWIM" group --- so others learn from our experiences, and make the commitment to stop DWIMming. Look for me on FB, or simply do a search for "Don't be a DWIM - Driving While Instant Messaging is BAD."

Safe driving!

Tom Ossa 
Rockland Web Design 
Stony Point, NY
(845) 271 - 4488

P.S. Contrary to pop culture criticism, AA has helped countless people turn their lives around. Aside from the slightly humorous tone above, I thought it to be a good idea to post the original AA 12 steps program:

  • We admit we are powerless over our mobile devices—that our lives are becoming unmanageable.
  • We believe that a Power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity.
  • Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him.
  • Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  • Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  • Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  • Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  • Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  • Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  • Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  • Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His Will for us and the power to carry that out.
  • Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

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