I had an early meeting in Hyattsville this morning. I was armed with my Garmin GPS and printed directions from Google Maps — I still got lost. I had to call my husband for extra navigational assistance. He was incredulous on the phone: “Don’t you have Jane (the GPS) with you? Did you follow the directions from Google?” Yes and yes, but I was still lost.
How is this even possible? For the last nearly 20 years (how did I get so old?), I have been in sales in the DC area. I feel like I have driven to most corners of the region. I know this region and I do not get lost!!! How on earth did I get lost this morning? And how did I get lost when I had so many tools at my disposal?
I have a hunch that all of these digital assistants are making me stupid. How and why?
Well, long before cell phones, GPS systems and Google/Mapquest maps, I would get directions the old fashioned way. I would call the prospect or client and get detailed directions. Mr. client would ask me where I was coming from and he would give me directions that included navigational clues like:” go 4 lights then turn right; if you see the Giant, you’ve gone to far; or go about 3 miles and then get on 95 on your right.” I would also get really helpful suggestions, like “don’t go through the City at that time of day, take the Beltway.” I would heed these directions and almost never get lost. And if I did get lost, I would find a gas station and ask the always-friendly attendant for help. Oh yeah, I also used to carry around maps with me, but I tossed those when I got my GPS; silly me!
I can’t remember the last time I called for directions or the last time I stopped at a gas station for directions. Along the way, while using my digital assistants, I lost the important navigational clues that helped me successfully navigate from one sales call to another. I have come to rely on my Jane the GPS and Google maps so much that I feel like I have lost my ability to navigate on my own! Now I wonder what other abilities I’m losing as a result of my reliance (some would say over-reliance) on these electronic devices and online services.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not giving up Jane anytime soon and Google maps is one of my best friends. And to be truthful, I *know* I got lost because Jane could not get any satellite reception and the Google maps directions were confusing. But perhaps next time, I’ll call for directions ahead of time and avoid giving my husband another case of navigational heartburn.
How about you? What electronic device do you rely on? What have you given up as a result? And how’s your driving these days?