In a few hundred years, if humanity survives that long, people will look back on this time wondering how we did it. How did we conquer the single most deadly enemy to ever confront the human race?
Our own stupidity.
The Black Death, which totally wasn’t our fault, killed 50 million people between 1346 and 1353. This was nearly 60 percent of Europe’s population. The Spanish Flu outbreak (also not our fault) killed 50 million people between 1918 and 1919. And World War II (OK, this one’s on us) accounted for about 60 million casualties.
The largest loss of human life, however, was the Ice Age. Scientists have speculated the population of the human race sank to 1,000 adults, although one study claims we were down to just 40 breeding pairs of humans, according to NPR.
Somehow we survived all that.
However, if civilization doesn’t last the next 100 years, it won’t be because of North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un getting his panties in a wad, the eruption of the Yellowstone National Park supervolcano, or something from space (virus, asteroid, hungry aliens). It will be because we’re simply too stupid to look away from our smartphones.
The city leaders of Salzburg, Austria, were so concerned about the rising rate of pedestrian accidents in their town, they covered all the lampposts with airbags. Because how were 40 percent of these pedestrians injured? They flat out walked into lampposts.
This distraction didn’t happen because of unexpected parades, unwanted “The Sound of Music” re-enactments or a lax public nudity policy. These people were looking at their smartphones. Yes, the zombies are here and we are they.
The Salzburg Board for Traffic Safety decided to protect its more easily distracted citizens instead of allowing nature – and cold, immovable metal – to take its course.
“We are of the opinion that, when people see this very public warning in the form of lamppost airbags of the dangers of not paying attention, they will change their behavior,” board member Martin Pfanner told the UK’s Daily Mail.
Pfanner obviously knows nothing about the way normal humans learn, which is an “Oh, crap” moment right before serious injury or death.
Salzburg isn’t the only city in the world adapting to Smombies (smartphone zombies). According to the Daily Mail, Augsburg, Germany, installed traffic lights on the sidewalks so people staring at their phones can see them. Honolulu is fining people who walk into the road while looking at their smartphone. And China has constructed “smartphone walking lanes” on sidewalks.
But Smombie activity isn’t just relegated to walking. Driving is a problem.
Distracted driving causes an estimated 421,000 injuries and 3,500 deaths each year. The main distraction (78 percent) is texting.
The U.S. Department of Transportation statistics show people who text and drive are stupid. That’s not a direct quote, but is strongly implied.
According to the department’s website, “Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that's like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.”
The human race is on the verge of starring in a Star Trek original series episode in which a civilization died because nobody remembered to look up. We’re getting that stupid.
– Jason’s newest novel, “Bad Day for the Apocalypse,” is available at jasonoffutt.com.