A few weeks ago, a few co-workers and I piled into my car for lunch at Issac’s. As she slid into the back seat, my friend noticed my giant map book.
Friend: Do you ever actually
use this thing?
Me, straight-faced: Every day.
Friend 1 and Friend 2, in unison and somewhat incredulously: Really?
Me: What? No. Who uses a map anymore?
My parents get me a paper map for every new place I move to — I got a map of Virginia and Harrisonburg when I went off to school, a map of Carlisle and Pennsylvania when I started my first job, and a map of York and I believe Gettysburg when I started at the YDR. And they all gather in the back pocket of my passenger seat in my car, never to be touched again.
Don’t get me wrong, Mom and Dad — a nice gesture. I do tend to get lost at least once every time I try to go somewhere new (although I found Spoutwood Farms with zero turn-arounds, which a friend told me is miraculous).
But what 20-something uses a map?
We have Mapquest. We have Google Maps. We have GPS units. We have GPS in our phones. We have GPS built into our cars. And we’re increasingly relying on technology instead of paper.
But what happens when a GPS unit loses a signal and we haven’t written out directions? What happens when a phone’s GPS function drains the entire battery? Are we too reliant on technology?
This weekend I went down to visit a friend outside of D.C., and wouldn’t you know it — something was wrong with the volume on my GPS unit. I tried to mess with its settings while driving at 65 mph on I-83 and staying mostly in my lane. But that gets a little tricky, not to mention dangerous and entirely nerve-wracking. Of course, I also have some trouble with the suction function on the unit, which means it usually rides in the passenger seat rather than the window, and I rely primarily on the voice.
Suffice to say, I was glad I’d written down the highways I was taking and the distance traveled on each. Navigating 695/95/495 is hard enough without getting lost.
Has your GPS conked out on you when you needed it most? What do you think, Gen Y’ers? Could you survive with just a paper map?