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German film director Werner Herzog’s recently released a short film titled From One Second to the Next with the support of AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon that has racked up almost 2 million views on YouTube since its release August 8 (Miller, 2013). Using the personal narratives of both the victims and the perpetrators, Herzog documents the price of texting and driving on different families.

His composition is an emotional attack on the viewer in which he uses the central route of persuasion for more than 30 minutes. Sympathy for the victims’ families is a natural reaction as you listen to descriptions of what they were like before the accidents and, if still alive, see the type of crippled lives they lead now. For those who did not live, law enforcement officers share semi-graphic documentary evidence of the crimes scenes depicting the damage while describing what happened. As in another of his films titled Into the Abyss, empathy may be felt for those featured that caused the accidents, noting that some chose not to take part. This is done by rousing the viewer’s feelings of compassion for the perpetrators as they express their side of the story, their emotions, their regret for their actions and the impact upon their lives (Konijn, 2013). They describe being in a state of transportation, their attention consumed by the text and the need to respond. The compulsion to engage socially being so overwhelming that they forget the importance of the task they are involved in. One states “I don’t remember what I was texting. I don’t remember the message. That’s how important it was” (Herzog, 2013). By the end, the viewer may realize that these individuals are all victims of inappropriate media use and, in particular, texting while driving.

There are plans to keep the conversation going. A 12-minute version of the film will be shown in more than 40,000 high schools next year to raise awareness among young digital natives (Miller, 2013; Heller, 2013). One can also make a public pledge at the website itcanwait.com where, at the bottom of the page, can also be found a link to mobile apps developed by AT&T, Verizon and Sprint which will conveniently send auto replies to texts and send calls directly to voicemail.

Some states have taken steps to make texting illegal in the charge of “driving while distracted” but the fines are typically trivial when compared to the damage done to other’s lives. California will fine a driver around $160 for the first offense and around $280 for the second, but it doesn’t compare to the thousands of dollars that may be spent on the victim’s medical expenses.  In 2012, about 450,000 people were ticketed in California for driving while distracted (City News Service, 2013). Perhaps it’s time to try to reduce the odds of being a victim.

References

City News Service. (2013, May 14). Police target   texting drivers; tickets start at $160. Retrieved from Daily Breeze:   http://www.dailybreeze.com/general-news/20130403/police-target-texting-drivers-tickets-start-at-160

Herzog, W. (Director). (2013). From One Second to the Next [Motion Picture]. Retrieved Aug 10, 2013, from http://youtu.be/_BqFkRwdFZ0

Konijn, E. A. (2013). The Role of Emotion in Media   Use and Effects. In K. Dill (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Media Psychology   (pp. 186-211). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Miller, D. (2013, Aug 16). Werner Herzog’s ‘From   One Second to the Next’ is an Internet hit. Retrieved Aug 16, 2013, from   Los Angeles Times:   http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/envelope/cotown/la-et-ct-werner-herzog-texting-documentary-20130816,0,6233314.story

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