I recently went on a road trip, where I drove for 19 hours, then 9, and then 13. Before I was back home. It was all done without the help of a paper map. My iPhone led through half of the trip, while vehicle GPS led the other. It was convenient, mostly accurate, and only sometimes infuriating. (Like when maps tells you to do the exact same thing 14 times in a row or when they make you go through construction even when you tell them to avoid it.)
But the whole thing got me thinking: are we too reliant on electronic maps? Do we need them to travel? Or could we do it the old fashioned way, if needed? What if our data were to stop working? Or the roads suddenly closed and Google had yet to update? Could I even read a paper map? Sure I like looking for fun or to see which states have the weirdest town names, but could I read it for function? Maybe.
But I also don’t want to. The map apps are just too easy.
The apps are my friends. They help me when I need them. They get me where I need to go, even if they are a bit bossy about it. They let me be lazy and to see the sites while they do all of the hard navigating work. And they are only kind of shade-throwing when I make a wrong turn. I’m really ok with it.
Except other passengers think they should offer us more. Or that I should better read their future.
I’d pull up the maps and someone else in the car would ask, “What road are we taking after this next turn?” and I’d guffaw like they’d asked me to translate our turns into French. Or they might have asked if there were toll roads if we took such-and-such instead. Or if we were to “take back roads instead.” Who did they think I was? Some type of map genius? I am able to explain what the app tells me, when it’s telling me, that’s it. Like the map is the boss of the trip and we have to go wherever it says. As if we are not in charge of our own vacation.
When I said this I was offered a free lesson in map reading – a class that interested me less than my intro to basket weaving course taken freshman year.
Is that too reliant? Probably. But it also puts me no worse off than the thousands of millennials who are also refusing to learn things for themselves. We’re a real hardworking generation. And we know it.