My Smart Phone Doesn’t Make Me Dumber. It Just Tells Me How To Get There.
Me: It’s so nice not hearing her annoying voice telling me what to do, you know?
Me: I forgot what it’s like to just drive, without that sassy b– telling me I’m doing it wrong.
Me: And it’s so freeing to have an idea of where I’m going and an idea of how to get there and the human capacity to adjust my chosen path at a moment’s notice or maybe even take a wrong turn and you know what? That would be okay, too.
Me: What are you doing?
Me: What are you doing with your phone?
Justin: I’m typing “Okeechobee” into Google Maps. At this point it should direct us on the route we wanted to take.
And this, my friends, is sometimes why marriage is so hard.
Me: Did you hear anything I just said? I’m fine. I have a map. It has a little blue dot on it telling me where we are. I don’t know if you heard, but I actually used to make maps for a living. I know how to read these things. We’re golden.
Me: Don’t you trust me to get us where we need to go?
There they were — the big guns.
He sighed again and then he did the hardest thing — he turned his phone off and went to sleep.
I smiled to myself. My navigational confidence had recently been renewed by terrifying events beyond my control. See, the morning after we’d spent the night at my sister’s place in Fort Lauderdale, I followed her to work to pick up some empanandas and coffee at the bakery I liked near her office. Halfway there I realized I’d forgotten my phone in her rush to get me out the door.
I had no idea where I was, where we were going, or how to get back to her apartment from the bakery.
She’s going to have to — *gulp* — write me directions.
At a stoplight I reached for my phone so I could text her and tell her I’d forgotten it.
I did it again at another stoplight.
I tried calling Justin so he’d be able to send out a search party in case I never made it back.
But nothing worked, you see, because I didn’t have my phone.
It was a weird feeling, to lose that crutch on which I’ve come to rely so heavily. I couldn’t reach anyone. I couldn’t see what was happening on Facebook. I didn’t even know my sister’s phone number, for crying out loud.
And it hit me just how ridiculous the whole thing was. There I was, a 30-year-old woman, panicking in my car because I might not be able to find my way home. The same woman who, a decade earlier in that very same vehicle, had successfully navigated the entire western half of the United States with nothing but a pile of free paper maps from her mom’s AAA and a “good idea” of where she was going.
And that was all it ever took.
Things were harder back then, sure, but we didn’t know that because they’d never been any easier.
And I suddenly realized why older generations were so scandalized by the fact that schools are no longer teaching kids simple math: If we lose true knowledge of these basic skills — navigation, math, cooking, reading, writing — and depend solely on technology to do everything but wipe our butts — How will any of us survive the zombie apocalypse?
And this is an important question, you know — a question I actually had time to ponder without Sassy Siri yelling at me that she needs to recalculate because I had chosen to take the scenic route.
It turns out navigating back to my sister’s apartment complex armed with a spoon-fed, step-by-step Mapquest printout really wasn’t difficult at all. And after circling the maze of lots and cloned buildings for ten minutes and still not managing to locate hers, the Jamaican maintenance guy was more than happy to let me follow his electric golf cart to the appropriate spot. And when I climbed the steps, walked through the door, and answered my sister’s worried call to make sure I’d made it okay, I laughed because wow. If I’d just paid attention to where we were going when we’d left, it really wouldn’t have been difficult getting back.
And that’s kind of true for everything, isn’t it?
If we’d just turn off our technology and pay a little more attention, maybe we’d learn a little something and things really wouldn’t be very difficult at all.