Paying To Limit Yourself

by Patrick Appel

A WSJ article examines two types of texting while driving solutions: one blocks calls and texts while in the car and the other lets drivers speak their texts. Berin Szoka responds:

The fascinating thing is that these solutions need not be mandated by government: At least some users will actually pay for them! Why? Because, sometimes we’re better off by being able to “bind” our future selvesjust as Ulysses asked his crew to tie him to his ship’s mast so he could enjoy the Siren’s enchanting song without giving in to their spell. Similarly, these exiting-blocking technologies empower users in three senses:

  1. Some users know they shouldn’t text while driving butlike smokers and people who casually pick their nosesjust can’t stop, so they want external discipline;
  2. Others just want the monthly discount on their car insurance; and
  3. Parents want to make sure they can discipline their children, who have a hard time resisting the impulse to pick up the phone.

All I could think about while reading this was the incredibly gory don't text while driving PSA that went viral a few weeks ago.