Hand me my crutch, boy.
This morning, I decided to make the drive in to work without my GPS. That may sound silly — who needs a GPS to get them to a place they go every day? But if you’ve ever tried to make a commute in Dallas (or Houston or any other mega-city), you know it’s not a simple matter of hopping on the freeway for a bit, then getting off at your exit, then driving a few blocks to the office. In my case, it’s seven different freeways.
But I digress. I’ve worked at my current hired-gun position for four weeks, and I’ve used the GPS to drive to the office every day until today. This morning, when I got in the car, I decided not to set up the GPS. I was curious if I actually knew how to get to the office, or if I just blindly followed what the machine told me to without learning anything.
I’m happy to report that I do, indeed, know how to get to the place I’ve driven to every day for the last month. I’m unhappy to report, however, that the experience of driving to work without the GPS was kind of nerve-wracking.
See, it’s not the directions that I wanted from the machine — I knew where I needed to turn and all that. It was all of the supplemental information that I missed. What’s my ETA? How does this slowdown affect my arrival time? How many miles am I from the 12-183 junction? How many minutes did sitting on this onramp cost me? Do I have missile lock? (My GPS is much more advanced than yours.)
Of course, I hit some slowdowns on the way. But without the constant updated information my GPS feeds to me, I started to panic — was I going to be late? How late? How many minutes have I been crawling at 20 miles an hour?
I arrived at the same time I always do. In fact, having or not having a GPS didn’t really affect my drive one way or the other, now that I knew where I was going. But it impacted how I felt about the drive. It’s the same way I feel about the Internet — I don’t need it, but I get a little panicky if I don’t have access to it.
Would there have even been an analog for this feeling 30 years ago? Is having access to tons of information all the time a good thing, or is it just more crap we don’t need? I leave it to you, my friends. Discuss.