Arguing with machines

Posted 6/21/22

I am hoping the headline of this column has gotten the attention of readers. I hope it hooks them and they eagerly lunge into the words below as I publicly admit something that happened to me last …

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Arguing with machines

Posted

I am hoping the headline of this column has gotten the attention of readers. I hope it hooks them and they eagerly lunge into the words below as I publicly admit something that happened to me last week.

Here it is, my name is Tom and I have argued with my GPS system.

On a trip to an unfamiliar town last week I loudly yelled at this stupid modern contraption that had me driving in circles. I found myself asking it repeatedly why it was sending me into residential neighborhoods with dead end roads. I later discovered it’s because I had it set on bicycle mode ­— a different story for a different day.

I would just about bet I am not the only one with this experience. Many of you out there have chosen to follow your own sense of direction and not that of the voice inside your cellphone.

I’m willing to bet you were right a lot of the time. There are times when GPS systems prefer longer, out of the way interstate systems to familiar roads we know by heart. I think the directions are conceived on time on the road and not necessarily what is the most convenient route. Believe it or not, once in a while, technology gets it wrong.

We have become so dependent on machines telling us where to go, literally, that we become upset when the process doesn’t work. On another recent occasion I found out exactly how much I depend on the directional system in my travel.

I had an issue with data connections in another place I wasn’t familiar with. I did something many half my age wouldn’t dream of — I stopped at a convenience store and asked directions. Luckily a nice lady was able to tell me exactly where to do.

To any of you below the age of 30, there was a time when GPS was reserved for the military. We used these paper devices often picked up at gas stations, they were called maps.

Much more relaxed, we planned our trips and knew exactly how to go somewhere before we went there. If we didn’t, our maps folded nice and fit perfectly into glove compartments.

Though one that is always reluctant to technology, my experiences have taught me to a certain degree we still have to depend on the sense of direction God gave us. There are times when the human body and mind can do things better than machines.

I have to admit though, Google searches are much more convenient than encyclopedias. Word processing computers are slightly easier to use than the old, manual typewriters I learned to type on in the basement of the old Dunn High School. Backup cameras are safer than rear view mirrors, though in that class the mirror is still essential.

Dinosaurs like me need to get over ourselves. Technology has definitely made the world an easier place but there are times it’s frustrating. Although I have to admit I have a new life goal — don’t argue with GPS machines when you’re in a city you don’t recognize.

Tom Woerner writes for The Daily Record and is former editor of the Harnett County News. Reach him at woernertmw@yahoo.com.

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