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Jewish World Review
January 25, 2008
/ 17 Shevat 5768
High-tech world dumbs us down
The more computers do for me, the less I do for myself.
Our son and his wife purchased one of those cool GPS systems for their car. They
gave us a demo by slapping it on our dashboard and plugging it into the cigarette
lighter. A voice prompt, along with a little yellow arrow on a small computer
screen, showed exactly where to go.
I want one. I could use one.
Yet, if we get one, there goes another portion of my brain into the deep, dark abyss
never to be seen again.
As it is now, I don't have to do math because I have a calculator. I
don't have to balance the checkbook because I have on-line banking. I
don't have to remember there is a "double c" and "double m" in
accommodate because I have spell check.
I don't have to memorize the preamble to the Declaration of
Independence, the Gettysburg Address or the words to the national anthem
because I have Google.
And now I don't have to watch where I'm going because there is GPS on
Smart technology, dumb me.
I am marveling at this little contraption, thinking how I would never again have to
worry about clouds obscuring the sun so I can tell if I am headed east or west, when
all of a sudden the husband says, "Yeah, GPS is nice all right, but when you have
one of those, you lose all the fun of getting lost."
It is like an out-of-body experience. "Excuse me, when have we had fun getting
lost?" I ask.
"Oh, you know, here and there, back roads."
"You don't mean last week when we went to the Sheltons'?"
"Yeah, that was fun, taking that little scenic route."
"We were one cul-de-sac off," I say. "I have no recollection of us ever having fun
"Really?" he says. He sounds sincere as though we are those people in commercials
who veer off highways, drive through canyons, honk at mountain goats, splash two
tires in the surf and leave tire tracks in the sand.
Maybe he has us mixed up with that couple in the luxury sedan aimlessly cruising
down a two-lane highway lined with towering firs. The man is enjoying the ride and
the woman with beautiful hair and perfect makeup is asleep in the passenger seat.
Her mouth is not hanging open and drool is not pooling in the corner of it.
We are not those people.
"You are confused," I say. "We have never had fun being lost. The only thing we have
had being lost is tension, frustration and me crumpling a 16-fold map into a paper
wad. Trust me, I'd remember."
He suddenly recalls a time I got turned around in a McDonald's parking lot due to
construction. Caught in a maze of one-ways, I called him from two states away to
Mapquest where I was.
"That was not fun," I snap.
"I rather enjoyed it," he says.
He concedes that my sense of direction, or lack thereof, may warrant checking into
one of these contraptions.
By the way, the voice on the GPS device giving directions to the driver
is distinctly female. Now that's a woman who sounds like she's having
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© 2008, Lori Borgman
Richard Z. Chesnoff
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Ask Doctor K