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June 3, 2015

Guest Post by Matt Richtel --- A DEADLY WANDERING


I'd venture a guess that there's a good chance you text --- a lot. Maybe at lunch or before you go to bed, but probably while you're doing other things, too --- "listening" to your teacher talk about the Civil War, sitting at the office or even walking, biking or driving.

In his book A DEADLY WANDERING, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Matt Richtel explores a "texting-while-driving" incident that claimed the lives of two rocket scientists in 2006 and the greater influence of technology on the human mind and society. See his blog post below, where he discusses the book --- it will definitely make you think twice about your own texting behavior.



There was this teenager. He was a very nice, young man. He played basketball and got B-plusses and A-minuses. He went to college. Then he killed two people.

He didn’t mean to. He was just driving to his painting job. He was going about 55 miles an hour. It was 6:30 in the morning and it was raining. And this teenager, named Reggie Shaw, he crossed the yellow divider by just a few inches, and he hit a Saturn coming the other direction.

That Saturn spun across the road and got crushed by another car. Inside the Saturn, two fine family men were dead.

All because Reggie was texting. What was he texting? Nothing special. It was so meaningless, he couldn’t even remember.

You know texting and driving is dangerous, so maybe that’s not news. Here’s the interesting part: when Reggie was texting, something incredible was going on inside his brain. It’s something that scientists have pieced together. Well, that’s not the most interesting part. The most interesting part is that the scientists also know what’s going on inside your brain when you are driving and using your phone, or your parents do it.

What they discovered will Blow Your Mind. They figured out why it is so hard to do two things at once. And not only that, they discovered why your cellphone can feel so addictive. They figured out that it is so thrilling to use your phone that it feels like a drug.

A DEADLY WANDERING is the story of Reggie, but also the story of you and your phone and how come it can take over your brain, literally hijack it, even when you’re driving your car in the freezing rain. Sure, you’ve heard it’s stupid to text and drive, or take a selfie or use Snapchat going 55. In fact, it’s worse than stupid, it’s deadly --- as bad as driving drunk. This book, this story, explains why it’s so hard to resist that phone. And once you understand Reggie’s brain, and your own brain, you’ll be able take full control of your smartphone so that it won’t have full control over you. 

Matt Richtel is a Pulitzer Prize-winning technology reporter for the New York Times. He is the author of A DEADLY WANDERING and the novels HOOKED, THE CLOUD, DEVIL'S PLAYTHING and THE DOOMSDAY EQUATION.