Although I claimed to spend more time on Instagram over Facebook during the first day of lecture, for some reason I found myself on Facebook for a huge chunk of my day off from work. During my mindless scrolling—liking friends’ new photos, ignoring meaningless status updates, the usual Facebook routine—I stumbled upon a video titled “How to Drive Like an Asshole,” shared by a friend who framed it with the caption, “The reason why I grind my teeth every day in LA.” The two minute clip showed a video game animation video (reminiscent of addictinggames.com circa 2005) of different scenarios that would cause people to be considered a horrible driver. Watching it was hilarious, and I immediately shared it on my own news feed as “I’ve never seen a more accurate video of my life.” )However that’s not to say that I’m a horrible driver; in fact, I consider myself a great driver despite the tired stereotype.)
This video, with an uncanny accuracy of my commute, also connected with this week’s reading for me. As I watched the video, it struck me how inapplicable the smartphone scenarios would be to my parents when they were my age. For example, the video shows a scenario of checking “for email, or really just do[ing] whatever” at a red light and forgetting to go when it turns green. This scenario is really only applicable to recent times with the rise of new media i.e. smartphones. This may be a bit of a stretch, but the same way the Atlantic’s Nick Carr asserts that Google is making us dumber in the reading, smartphones could be making us worse drivers? Per the reading’s example of technological determinism, “something, or someone,” changed the way young people drive, and that thing is the smartphone, according to the video. Now obviously, aside from anxiety of impatient drivers such as myself, the smartphone has caused anxiety regarding a cultural change of more careless, distracted drivers.
It’s funny how a video that sums up my rush-hour frustrations connected with this week’s reading, but for me, it illustrated new media’s causality for cultural change. If it were 20 years ago, I doubt anyone would pull the “slow down on the freeway on-ramp to open the Maps app for directions before actually driving like a sane person” situation; but that’s my reality today.