A new region of the brain, called the Prefrontal Phontex, is poised to replace the Prefrontal Cortex in people who constantly use their phones to text. The startling discovery, published in the most recent issue of Unnatural History, reveals that the obsession with texting now has a physical representation.
The brain of compulsive texters now contains an android-like cellular mass, surrounded by flickering lights resembling iPhone apps. The Prefrontal Phontex sits between the Prefrontal Cortex and the skull. Researchers at the National Institute of Unnatural History found that the more you text, the larger the Phontex gets and the smaller your Cortex becomes. Scientists predict that avid users of text will lose their entire Prefrontal Cortex in six to seven years.
For those unfamiliar with the functions of the Prefrontal Cortex, it is a part of the brain involved in decision making, complex cognitive processes, planning, predicting outcomes, suppressing unacceptable behavior, and distinguishing between good and bad. While health professionals warn against the disastrous consequences of a Cortex-Free society, Dr. Tranquilo from the Miami Institute of Psychiatry thinks otherwise. He told me “that 80% of the people in the city already behave as if they had no Cortex whatsoever and we are all still here. It’s the way of the future. Miami is a harbinger for the entire country.”
The Chamber of Commerce of Miami Dade County sees this as a great opportunity to attract new businesses and research centers. “This development builds on our strengths,” said a spokesperson for the Chamber. “We have gotten so used to people without a Prefrontal Cortex that other cities can learn from us.” “Come to a World Like No Other. Visit Miami, City with no Prefrontal Cortex.”
Speaking anonymously, an executive with the telecommunication industry told the Associated Press that they are already saving money for the lawsuits. He told me that “texting will be nothing compared to selfies.” They have become so popular that selfie was named word of the year for 2013. “More and more people are selfying and driving.”
For their part, texters claim that the state is not doing enough to protect them from their devices. “They recently passed a law in Florida to prevent texting while driving that is totally unenforceable” told me a 26 year old while he was texting and driving on US 1. An investigation into the conviction rates under the new law shows that last year fewer people have gotten convicted than were able to access the Healthcare.gov website.
When I approached the Governor’s office about the dismal rate of convictions in Florida they referred me his spokeswoman.
Spokeswoman: “We have too many Medicare fraud and political corruption cases in Florida. There is only so much our jails can handle.”
Me: “Does it bother you that people are getting into accidents because they are distracted by their phones?”
Spokeswoman: “It’s a free society. We cannot interfere with their choices, but one solution that Governor Scot is exploring is to give every Floridian a Google car — those that don’t require a driver.”
Me: “And how is he going to pay for that?”
Spokeswoman: “Google will give every Floridian a driverless car and will throw in a pair of Google glasses. In return, the Governor will give to Google all of Miami, present and future residents included, before the next gubernatorial election.”
Lawyers show no interest in enforcing the law either, as they are now charging clients by words texted. “If our clients are in jail, they cannot text us because their phones are taken away, depriving us of a new source of revenue,” told me Mr. Suetime. “It’s much better for us to keep our clients on the streets, where they can text and drive.” Law Schools also welcome a Cortex-Free society, especially at a time of declining enrollments.
When I interviewed several compulsive texters about their habits, they told me that they are afraid of FOMO: Fear of Missing Out. They are constantly texting and looking at their Facebook page because they want to be the first one to know that their best friend had diarrhea.
This column appeared in Miami Today, 5/21/2014