5 Ways Your Nerd Gadgets Are Killing You
Video games will turn our kids violent. The Internet will ruin our attention spans. Texting will ruin the art of coherent typing -- yeah, yeah, Grandpa, we get it. You're scared of technology.
But what's funny is that while all of the standard warnings turn out to be alarmist garbage, our geek toys are wreaking havoc in completely unexpected, and amazingly stupid, ways. For instance ...
Absent-Minded Texters Are Constantly Injuring Themselves
You know the guy: He's veering right toward you, head down, eyes glued to whatever amazingly compelling narrative his buddies are texting him. Is it annoying? Yes. But it's not like these people are so out of it that they're constantly bonking their heads on obstacles or falling into holes. Except when they totally are.
Seconds later, four people were dead.
You already know that texting while driving is completely idiotic and even worse than drunk driving, but who can't handle shooting someone a quick text while simply walking down the street? A lot of us, apparently. Some cities -- and we are not making this up -- have fought the pinball-machine-like plague of zombie texters by padding their lampposts.
One day society will learn that some folks deserve their head injuries.
Meanwhile, cities like London have installed talking crosswalk signals at intersections to catch their attention. Hell, these are accommodations you'd normally associate with blindness -- you literally have to treat text-focused walkers as if they have lost their very eyes. Only they don't have other senses heightened to compensate.
Our nation's capital has even ramped up jaywalking tickets as a way to curb these blind digital locusts. In Indiana, a woman just plum fell 6 feet off of a pier.
As of yet, there hasn't been a true walking-while-texting risk study. But we know that in 2008, over 1,000 pedestrians visited emergency rooms as a result of texting or chatting away on the phone while strolling down the street. And the trend just keeps spiraling upward. It's gotten so bad, there is now an app that can show the ground for you, so you don't have to worry about pesky things like oncoming people and walls and such.
Because the solution to this problem couldn't possibly be "slightly less texting."
And yes, people are dying from this. In a parking garage in Melbourne, a teen plunged seven stories down after walking over the safety barriers mid-text. A man in LA was hit by a semi truck while texting. One could surmise that this problem could be so bad, a texter could walk right into a bear and not even know it. Oh, hey, that totally happened:
HDTVs Fall on Children at a Shocking Rate
Say what you want about the huge cabinet TVs of your childhood, but it was damned hard to push one of those things over. They weighed like 200 pounds, and they were wide at the base. If you ever found somebody injured in front of one, it was almost certainly an attack by the Ring girl.
We've been told by Sony that all old TVs have a scary girl trapped inside of them, so go buy a Bravia, we guess.
But now everybody has these huge flat-panel TVs, either mounted on walls or on silly, unstable, H.R. Giger-inspired stands. And they are straight up falling on our kids.
In 2007, near the beginning of the HD boom, 17,000 kids were rushed to the ER after "heavy or unstable furniture" fell on them. Now, while some of them can be attributed to rogue ottomans, the fact is that this was a 41 percent increase since 1990, and half were from falling TVs.
The others were from suspiciously nudged TVs.
When sitting on a stand, these thin, heavy machines have a seriously low center of gravity, making them into cartoon anvils waiting to happen. The technology being the way it is, almost all the weight of the newer TVs is placed in the front of the unit (in the heavy, thick panel of glass), making them a ticking, toppling time bomb waiting to engulf your loved ones in a shower of sparks and broken glass. Yes, people have died this way.
As for the wall-mounted ones, keep in mind, most people doing the mounting haven't had much do-it-yourself experience other than programming universal remotes and fixing the bouncy thing in the back of the toilet. "Who cares if the wall mounts are drilled into plaster instead of the stud? It's not like we're going to be climbing on the damned thing!" But kids are, in fact, natural climbers. And when they attempt to scale Mount Bravia, disaster usually unfolds.
Congress has even brought the issue to attention, proposing safety mandates in 2005. And again in 2007. It was shot down both times, presumably because senators just get a case of the gut-busting belly laughs when imagining children being enveloped in the slaughter-hug of a Samsung.
"Intense research has shown that sizable bribes, not children, are our future."
Printer Toner Fumes Might Be as Bad as Cigarette Smoke
The next time you're standing in front of the office laser printer, waiting for spreadsheets, or schematics, or your LARPing league handbook copies to finish copying, keep in mind that as that son of a bitch chugs away, it's shooting out a toner-filled gas that could have severe respiratory consequences. And it could be as bad as cigarette smoking.
Except it doesn't guarantee you a break every hour.
A study conducted with 62 of the most popular printers discovered that up to 30 percent of them emitted dangerously high levels of ultrafine toner particles. The particles being as small as they are, they have no trouble being inhaled into the smallest passages of the lungs. And this kind of office pollution is widespread: One area of research was an office in Brisbane, Australia. It was found that the fine particle count inside the workplace was three times higher than outside, right near a damned highway.
This is the safest place to work in Australia.
The type of particulates and nature of risk fluctuated with each type of printer, and scientists aren't completely sure why. Scientists believe it's a mix of the age of the printer and how the lasers work with the toner cartridge, and also some science and stuff. Whatever it is, it's proven that laser printers contribute to a five-fold increase in particulates during workday hours. While the home office isn't as busy as a functioning workplace office, it could be worse still, due to a more closed environment and poor ventilation. It's just you and your printer, sitting there, sharing its powder farts.
"That wasn't me ... that was, uh, Ted."
Video Games Cause Way More Injuries Than Should Be Possible
Whatever the downsides of video games -- lack of exercise, increased urge to shout ethnic slurs at strangers a continent away -- we don't think of it as a particularly dangerous activity. You might think that the introduction of full-body gaming via the Nintendo Wii and Xbox Kinect probably brought on a rash of injuries due to flailing Wiimotes connecting with the heads of sibling spectators, but that was surely offset by all of the great exercise those kids were getting. But the truth is way stranger.
It's actually senior citizens taking out patronizing game journalists.
In a study conducted from 2004 to 2009, they found about 700 injuries stemming from video games that were severe enough to require medical attention. And get this: The motion-based games only accounted for 13 percent of them. The rest, mostly finger, hand and wrist ailments, were from traditional "sit 'n' press buttons" game play. We're just shocked that this many patients were willing to admit that to a doctor.
"The doctors say you've suffered severe pwnage to both of your arms. They want to amputate."
Now, 700 might not sound like a huge injury toll considering how many people play games, but if we had had to guess at how many people had injured themselves sitting completely motionless and tapping thumb buttons, we'd have figured a dozen at most.
Not that motion gaming is off the hook here -- it has led to a whole other category of injuries of their own. In the first full year of motion gaming, from 2007 to 2008, injuries from video games immediately rose 214 percent. Most of these were from overexertion or being whacked with the remote. But it doesn't stop there. While you wouldn't even think of real bowling as a sport that could injure you unless you dropped the ball on your foot, the completely ball-less Wii Sports bowling has led to multiple cases of patellar injury and even early onset carpal tunnel.
Wii Shanking has to be the worst culprit.
Meanwhile, the Wii Fit balance board has caused numerous ruptured Achilles tendon injuries. The Kinect sports titles have resulted in tons of ailments, including bursitis and tendon and ligament inflammation. This is what happens when older people, and normally sedentary gamers, are all of a sudden flitting around the room. Nobody is warming up first or wearing shoes made for exercise, and they're quite frankly not used to the motions. And, because it's all happening in a game, they probably figure there's no way they can really injure themselves throwing an imaginary ball.
But at least motion games are getting us in shape, right? Actually, no. While gamers suffer the kind of injury the athletes of the world put up with, they're not getting the benefits. In one motion gaming study, it was discovered that kids who owned motion games didn't, on the whole, get any more exercise than the ones who played the "sit and stare at the screen" variety.
It was discovered that executives who play motion games are 80 percent more likely to look like tools in bad suits.
And, if you're a PC gamer who took a break from playing World of Warcraft on your laptop to read this article, we have even worse news ...
Your Laptop May Be Frying Your Balls
We've all been in bed late at night, working on some super important project with our laptop nestled on our crotch. And maybe this project, uh, required you to have your penis out. But while you were competing in your own little demented Ambien challenge, the fact is that the heat from the laptop's battery was blasting you directly in your yam bag.
A study in 2010 discovered that the heat coming from a laptop sitting near your coin purse exposed it to scrotal hyperthermia. As in, the opposite of hypothermia. It's cooking your balls, is what we're trying to say.
Cooking your delicious yam-balls.
It's not that your genitals are going to burst into flame, but it may very well lower your sperm count. Keep in mind, the entire reason a man's parts are outside of his body is that sperm need to be kept cooler than body temperature or else they die. Raise the temperature of your fragile bits by just two degrees and sperm start getting damaged. And this study found that just one hour of laptop use raised ball temperature by 4.5 degrees.
But that's OK, because you won't be getting laid anyway, sweater boy.
And no, sticking a pillow or laptop pad under it won't matter -- they tried that, and got the same result. Your boys need to be able to breathe. So are we saying that your MacBook is the reason mankind will slowly dwindle away to nothing, a generation of men unable to procreate, frustrated and infertile? No, but there is no question that there is less risk to your swimmers if you put the laptop on a table. And keep your genitals exposed to the cool outdoor air as often as possible. My God! That homeless guy on the subway was right all along.
6 out of 10 people are probably related to him in some way.
Music, love and more from Justin here: The Hot Meals.
For more technology you should probably be wary of, check out 5 Sci-Fi Technologies People Achieved By Hacking the Kinect and 8 Terrifying Robots Now Stalking Your Local Hospital.