I recently encountered an interesting take on what Fischer and Applin refer to as “Mixed, Dual and Blended Reality” — the phenomenon whereby people using various modern technologies may not be psychologically located where they are physically located.
Consider one familiar example: If you are crossing the street and talking obliviously on a cell phone, then your mind is having a pleasant chat with a friend while your neglected body, perhaps crossing against the light, has become a soft fleshy target for oncoming traffic.
I had mainly been thinking about such situations from the perspective of the pedestrian who, being psychologically absent, is in danger of serious injury or worse. I hadn’t really thought about it as thoroughly from the perspective of the driver.
Then yesterday a colleague — who often has occasion to drive through pedestrian-heavy intersections — told me of her unusual strategy for preventing oblivious pedestrians from wandering through red lights into the path of her moving vehicle. It’s a very simple strategy, really.
As she approaches an intersection where it looks as though people are about to cross against the light, she picks up her cellphone — which is actually switched off — and holds it to her ear, as though carrying on a conversation.
She reports that this works like a charm: Rather than cross against the light, people in the crosswalk, even if they themselves are on the phone, wait until her car has gone by.
This is certainly a form of dishonesty. On the other hand, everybody gets to go home alive.