Celebrity Surgeon Death Linked to Tweeting While Driving

August 23, 2010
Sean Johnson

We live in a world that is becoming increasingly obsessed with social media. And while social media does allow users to make connections and share experiences in ways that simply were not possible 20, 15, and even 10 years ago, the harsh reality is that social media involvement can become an addiction.

We live in a world that is becoming increasingly obsessed with social media. And while social media does allow users to make connections and share experiences in ways that simply were not possible 20, 15, and even 10 years ago, the harsh reality is that social media involvement can become an addiction. It may sound ridiculous, but don’t be surprised if “status update anxiety” becomes a documented condition in the next decade. Millions of people are using the large, recognizable social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Myspace, and many others are also using smaller niche networks to establish connections based on disease state, interest, location, and anything else you could imagine. In many cases, users often belong to and actively participate in several different social networks. But monitoring and participating in so many different conversations can not only be time consuming, it can be downright addicting.

Which leads us to the sad, cautionary tale of Dr. Frank Ryan, a celebrity surgeon who passed away earlier this week after his jeep went off a cliff. Speculation as to what caused the accident became a bit clearer when authorities verified through phone records and Ryan’s Twitter account that he had been actively texting and tweeting just moments before the fatal accident.

Texting and driving has been proven many times to be a dangerous mix. More and more accidents are being attributed to this combination every day. Which begs the question: why is it illegal to text and drive in only 30 states? The tragic death of Ryan can have a positive side to it if it helps to call to attention the very real danger that exists when drivers expend energy doing other things besides, well, driving. Not only does it put the driver in danger, as in Ryan’s case, but it also endangers other drivers who may be doing the right thing (ie, not texting and tweeting).

How many more unnecessary deaths and accidents must occur before lawmakers enact stricter measures to prevent this risky practice?