Peter 'Fish' Case: Relying on technology to save us from our distracted nature


I own a newer car. It will detect when the back door has been opened and closed prior to me departing for someplace, and when I get to my destination it will literally remind me that there is something on the backseat that I should check on. Yes, we're that level of distracted, preoccupied and frazzled that we need an object to remind us of things. Now, I have to admit I didn't realize why my car reminded me that I may have left something on the back seat. It actually never occurred to me that it would be for something far more important than a wet umbrella. Then someone told me: it's in case you leave your child in the car! Wait ... What! My motor vehicle will notify me of that.

OK ... ?

Then I'm on the phone (using my hands-free calling option), when I arrive to my destination. I shut my car off and this notification starts to ding loudly, because my passenger had dropped something on the backseat. I tell the person I'm speaking with that the noise is the "I'm a distracted person that used the back seat" notification. Which led to a different conversation that made me go home and look something up. Before I go too deep into this, I mean absolutely no disrespect to any parent out there that may have had a bad day. I'm not trying to single out any one individual. I'm merely speaking to the distracted nature of the 21st century. That said, I feel sad.

By now we all know not to leave our dogs and pets in the car on a hot day. But in an unbelievable turn of events we have to remember our kids. I know it's crazytown to be discussing this, but here we are, developing new ways to remind ourselves that our children are in the backseat (like being asked a million times if we're there yet isn't reminder enough). Actual articles have been published to assist us in not forgetting that our loved ones are in the car. They coach you to leave something important in the back seat with them, like a purse, your phone or a shoe, one TV report states. Please don't take this the wrong way, but if we need that level of reminding, maybe we shouldn't have procreated.

Again, I don't want to sound like that guy that walked to school in the snow, barefoot, both ways uphill, but things were different when I was a kid. I can remember waiting in the car for my parents at the grocery store on an August day. Granted, if it got hot I was old enough to step outside the car. But my parents always knew I was in the car; but again, all things being equal, growing up we owned cars like the Volkswagen Bug and Chevy Chevette so we really couldn't get away from one another. So, there was that.

As critical as I can sound, trust me when I tell you, I'm not a fan of complaining for the sake of complaining and I of course don't want any harm to come to anyone. So, on the one hand I'm happy that we're all given suggestions on how to prevent these things. They even have phone apps that you can download to help remind you that you have a child in the back of the car — Kars 4 Kids and Driver's Little Helper that will begin reminding you that you may have a sleeping child in the back of the car. Even though I believe this all to be some of the craziest talk I've ever seen, I'm also very much a fan of having these tools and reminders that could help prevent any harm befalling a child.

But make no mistake about it, we're completely addicted to technology; we're so reliant on it that we forget everything else because we're all waiting for a device to remind us. When I was in high school, I had everyone's phone number committed to memory. Those days are gone; I now have a phone that literally tells me what to do, and it's not OK! What the Hell is Up with that?

Peter "Fish" Case is a man with an opinion. He offers up a weekly podcast discussion that can be heard at Questions, compliments and complaints can be sent to him at The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Brattleboro Reformer.



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