Why I Wouldn't Buy a GPS

At Slate, Joel Achenbach explains--with a good dose of humor--precisely why I have no affinity for GPS. My favorite quotes, the number and length of which surely violate copyright laws, are below--and if they don't inspire you to go read the whole thing, you probably have or want to have a talking map in your car. . .which is fine. For you. Not for me.

But I'm a good navigator. My brain is crammed with little magnets that tell me the direction of true north. By studying the landscape, finding the sun in the sky, examining the moss on trees, and judging the rabbit pellets and bear spoor by temperature and mouthfeel, I can reliably find the nearest Starbucks.
. . .
With GPS there is no terra incognita. It's all been cognita-ed to the last square millimeter.
. . .
Computers can't cruise. Meandering is a foreign concept to them. The computer assumes that all behavior is in pursuit of an ultimate goal. Whenever a motorist changes his or her mind and veers off course, the GPS lady issues that snippy announcement: "Recalculating!"

But again, I can tolerate the computer; the bigger problem is that the GPS device robs the traveler of a human skill that has emerged from Deep Time. We are generally quite good at reading landscapes. We are members of a hunting and gathering species, and we've learned, over the millenniums, to find prey, forage, and shelter; to anticipate changes in weather; to interpret hostility or amicability among others of our kind; to sniff out sexual opportunities. Surely we can find our hotel downtown.
. . .
I won't go along anymore. Better to be lost than zombified.

It's like using a calculator to tally your checkbook balance--not to align your tally with your bank statement balance, but to do the basic addition and subtraction of deposits and debits. I like my basic math skills. I want to keep them. At least until our children have time to learn them.

Kudos to HSK at World Mag Blog for the heads-up.

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