GPS: Helper or Hinderer?

So, I was listening to Elvis Duran on my way to work the other morning, and one of the topics proposed was how dependent we’ve become on our GPS. During the time frame they were discussing, I felt there were several valid points made by each of the members. Beginning with Elvis talking about finding himself stuck in an eerie alleyway, with Scary adding that his navigation system took him down an unfinished dirt road; the conversation soon took on a whole new level of absurd hilarity.

Nate’s comment, that you often know when you need to make a turn, but you instead wait for the GPS to tell you, and by then, too many cars have lined up and you have to squeeze into a space allotted by a Good Samaritan. Or keep driving and make an “illegal U-turn” because you weren’t lucky enough to meet a Good Samaritan that day. Let’s not forget the annoying and redundant “RE-ROUTING” Siri repeats over and over again, every time you miss the turn.

Nate also commented, agreeing that we rely entirely too much on “a computer.” Especially, when we let it take us down an unfamiliar path, like Scary added, and we wind up driving down an unfinished road, or we get caught in an inconvenient situation, like Elvis in the creepy alley. According to Nate, we’re “listening to a computer.” He says this in an almost comical light, as if he can’t believe that we have reached this point of dependence.

Listening to this discussion, one has to ask themselves, why is it that I listen to the GPS when I know I need to make the turn? This misstep comes from the allusion that the computer can never be wrong, which is in fact, false. Computers are wrong all the time. We forget that people are capable of changing the way they think, computers are not.

In my opinion, we were much better navigating off maps. Because not only were those maps accurate, but because we spent so much time studying them, we were better equipped to navigate through the neighborhood from memory. We became the maps. Now, we rely so much on a computer giving us directions based off of a picture. We were better off memorizing street names and mile radiuses.

For me personally, any time I drive somewhere new, I look it up on my GPS and go through the entire route and try to memorize all the turns. I use the GPS for back up. This reminds me of the time I asked my father to teach me how to read a map. He produced one, (of course) from his truck, but proceeded to tell me that maps are becoming obsolete, and once when you could have bought maps just about anywhere, there are very few places to purchase them. It makes sense. Stores won’t sell them if they can’t make money off them, and if people are so reliant on GPS, they won’t pay money for a map.

My next question is, what if our technology ever fails? We know technology is imperfect. So what happens if your sole means of navigation is your phone, and it dies while you’re on the road. No charger, no computer, no friendly face, and miles of open road ahead of you. What’s your next move? So, has the GPS really advanced us as far as we think, or has it taught us to forgo all other means of problem solving and forced us to become dependent on computers?


Nicole DeVincentis


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