June 26, 2012
We have all learned to rely on technology for just about everything. Need a recipe? Google it. Want to know where you are in any given city? Check your map app. Care to drive blindly through a foreign city, listening only for the commands of your GPS? You know what to do.
But here’s the thing. As quick as technology has made us, it hasn’t always contributed to smart action. If you know, for instance, that you should turn left at that intersection, but your GPS is telling you to take a right (it doesn’t see the detour sign like you can), how often do you listen to the machine? I’ve become so navigation system-dependent that the mere thought of going somewhere without it sets me into a panic. Yet I remember a time when I would leave the house without even a map. It was more about knowing the approximate vicinity, then stopping at a gas station to ask exactly where you are.
Remember the days of mapquest.com in your pre-satellite-guided driving days? You’d patiently type in your starting and stopping points, print out pages and pages of directions and somehow direct yourself to the place whilst glancing down at the paper every two minutes? And there it all was in black & white.
Today I am often led astray by Nancy the Navigator, that cold-hearted voice coming from my machine suction-cupped to the windshield. As she guided me here, there and everywhere on a recent jaunt, only to land just a few paces from my starting point, I swear I could here connivance in her tone!
So I’ve made a promise to myself to wean myself off my devices every so often and to step back into life where the streets have names, and people, not machines, guide me there.
Let’s get lost together. Who knows who will meet along the way?
June 20, 2009
The call came in just as I was leaving the parking lot. My casting agent asked if I might dash over to another TV show set to fill in for someone who didn’t show up. I had just wrapped up filming a TV drama. I played a small role as a secretary in a foreign office and was pleased that we were done by noon. So I agreed, as long as she could show me how to get there.
I met her in her office briefly to discuss travel details. Without a GPS I wasn’t sure I’d find my way. After two years, we had to return the company car whose GPS we christened Nancy the Navigator. She was unfriendly, but efficient. Or so we thought.
It turns out I found the place just fine with the mental directions stored in my head. In the process I noticed my surroundings much more. My awareness was raised because it had to be, otherwise I might have missed a turn. It made me realize how mind-numbing gadgets can be.
I used to rely on Nancy’s steady, insistent voice to turn this way or that. With her gone I was a little uncertain. But then I realized an ounce of faith can take you a long way. So I put faith, not in technology, but in myself.
It was a freeing moment of gadgetless travel. I liked it. You might want to give it a try!