Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Updating the GPS

We’re taking a little trip, and leaving a half-trained monkey with an assault weapon in the house, this weekend. It’s a trip to my parents’ house, so we know where we’re going, but I’m updating the GPS just because we like to use it for trips like this. It’s fun to play “Race the Tom-Tom” and see if it really does take 4 hours to make the trip. (It doesn’t.)

While I don’t have to do much to get the GPS up-to-date other than plug it in and click “Yes” to the fourteen times the computer asks if I really want to update, it’s still a long process. I’m about 45 minutes in at this point and still waiting. Why does it take so long?

Because every three months, Tom-Tom updates the whole map. It doesn’t correct the map. It deletes the whole thing and starts over. Now, deep in the recesses of Tom-Tom Central, I’m sure they do not actually delete the whole thing. That’s just how it works for my personal GPS unit.

I’m warned that if I don’t keep my maps updated, even though it’s a long process, I may accidentally divert into a pond or drive off a bridge that no longer exists. These are a couple of my everyday fears, so I do my best to keep the GPS updated. Who wants to drive off a non-existent bridge into a pond, anyway?

Except there is something that should stop me from driving off that bridge. It’s those two things behind my glasses and that massive calcium-covered processor that they are wired to. My eyes and my brain should keep me from going off the deep end, literally, with the car.

Yet I keep my extra helper ready, just in case. I think it’s a symptom of a larger problem in our world right now. We rightly know that we cannot trust ourselves in all things. After all, the brain forgets at times, the heart is not always attracted to the right things.

But we are getting more and more acclimated to relying on someone else to tell us everything. We have experts to tell us not just how to exercise but when; not just what to eat but the exact right utensil to cook it with.

The idea that people should store some information in their brains, recall that information later, and apply it with some common sense appears to be passing out of fashion. And that is honestly a scary thought. It’s one thing to not remember every element on the periodic table. It’s fine to not remember Columbus and 1492, especially since he was just coming where Celtic Monks had been for centuries.

It’s not fine to not know poisonous from non-poisonous. Or to not know that you can’t drive in the river. Increased access to information is great, but the accompanying death of common sense does not bode well for us.

So, yes, update your GPS. But don’t let it replace having half a brain.

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