Of all the complaints about in-flight safety, none ruffles more feathers than the infamous "Turn off all electronic devices" rule. Sure, it makes sense that you can't be on your cellphone. No good can come from having air traffic controller instructions to the pilot being intercut with bursts of your yenta of a mother nagging you about not calling enough. That seems like something that could totally happen. But what's the harm in getting in a little Angry Birds time while you taxi on the runway?
Seriously, can anyone answer that question? What sort of catastrophe will firing up your Kindle actually lead to? That's all we want to know. Here's the thing, though. Apparently, even the airlines aren't completely sure what harm lies in using your Sony Discman while on the runway (other than the obvious harm to your reputation that comes from still using a portable CD player like the 2000s never even existed).
Seriously, just cut those wrists.
Most of the explanations boil down to six simple words: Something might but probably won't happen. It's true that all wireless devices emit radio waves that could, in theory, interfere with computer controls in the cockpit. There's even one recorded instance of a laptop causing the autopilot on a plane to disengage. When that happened, the airline actually bought the laptop from the passenger so they could study it. Despite repeated attempts, they were never able to duplicate the problem. But still, just the fact that it's possible is good enough reasoning for me. People win the lottery all the time. I sure as shit don't want to be on the plane that wins the "Holy fuck that guy's electronic Sudoku game just caused the engine to shut down" lottery.
So why don't they just say that instead of being so vague about the issue? If airlines want people to stop bitching about this seemingly pointless rule, all they need to do is tell us why it's a rule in the first place. It would be as simple as changing the "Please turn off all electronic devices" line from the safety video to "Please turn off all electronic devices or else this entire fucking plane might fall from the sky and turn into a fireball of death that will kill everyone on board and several people on the ground." Maybe follow it up with a shot of an actual plane crash. If that doesn't get Alec Baldwin to stop playing Word With Friends, nothing will.