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Written by Jes-c Brandt   

I love technology

When in Rome, there never seems to be a shortage of “helpful” people ready to provide directions or give a tour. Their trick is to give the help first and the price after. Any good tourist is wary about trusting these guides, so it makes me wonder about our instincts when it comes to trust.

Most of us learned as children there are only certain people we can depend on. “Stranger danger” still rings in the back of my mind when I’m required to approach new people. No, we don’t trust the stranger, but most of us will put blind faith in a GPS. Get in the car, type in the address and wait for the computerized voice. I was no different than the general public in my trust of the faithful GPS until a recent mishap.

The car was loaded with fencing equipment, and I buckled up with three of my teammates to compete in a sabre tournament in Billerica, Mass. We followed the usual routine, and soon we were on the road. This being the first competition of the semester, we were all quite excited, talking smack about other teams and speculating about possible scenarios.

Everything seemed to be going well until our driver nervously asked, “Are we supposed to be going through New York?” The answer is no. New York is basically in the exact opposite direction of Billerica.

A quick calculation told us we would never make the tournament in time, so we accepted things and headed back to Amherst, Mass.

To this day, I don’t know what went wrong with the directions. As far as I could tell, the GPS knew what it was doing, and we should have made it to our destination without a problem. But whatever the reason, the GPS calculated some bizarre directions to Billerica, and we followed without question. And it wasn’t until we saw the “Entering New York” sign that we figured there was a problem.

Luckily for us, the stakes weren’t particularly high on this occasion, and our GPS mishap didn’t result in anything too horrible. Really, it was just a couple hours lost and a bit of disappointment that we couldn’t fence.

This event certainly made me think though. We didn’t have a map in the car, and obviously we weren’t the most observant bunch, so getting back to campus could have been a bit of an adventure, so to speak.

I’m on the fence about the matter of technology. Yes, I use it every day, nearly incessantly. No, I don’t want to give up the convenience of Google or mp3s or spellcheck. However, it does seem like we rely a bit heavily on technology to get us through the day. Now I’ve got myself wondering if I actually could survive without it.

One day without technology, I could probably do. I have some food that doesn’t require a microwave, and I could always turn to a dictionary for my spelling troubles. Going for a week would probably be pretty tough though. I’m sure I would be out of the loop if no one could text or e-mail me. Not to mention how much more difficult research for homework would be without Wikipedia.

If a time actually came when I could no longer rely on the technology that has become integrated into my everyday life, I would be scared. I don’t memorize phone numbers or addresses anymore, and I often don’t record them anywhere but within my phone itself. A large number of my acquaintances would be nearly impossible to reach without the option of sending a Facebook message.

Yes, a day without technology would be a frightening time for many—especially for those around my age. Let’s face it, when YouTube is running slowly, people start to legitimately freak out.

Even with these thoughts in mind, I find myself unmotivated to do anything to change my reliance on technology at all. I just like the convenience too much. Getting so lost that we ended up in another state is a memorable and entertaining experience, but it looks like I’m not taking away the moral from this story. But maybe someone else will. Rethink the technology you use day-to-day, and see how dependent you are.

If nothing else, please keep a map in the car.