Maps versus GPS

I’m a driver and have been for the last 15 years. Driving is my main only mode of transport 99% of the time. But I don’t know the roads very well apart from places I go to more frequently. Well, not as well as H does, who is by the way a non-driver. So when I have to drive to to new places, invariably I have to refer to some sort of reference to find my way around. Before the prevalence of high-speed internet, I depended heavily on a hard copy street directory. And after, using the online version. After commiting the map to memory, I memorise the route by ‘Left, Left, Right, Left, Right’, most often the directions after exiting an expressway or after a road/landmark I am familiar with.

The direction mnemonic of sorts is something that will not make sense to a second person. But it usually works fine for me. Sure I’ve gotten lost a couple of times, but Singapore is not difficult to navigate around and so long as I find an expressway, I can orientate myself again.

In comes GPS devices for cars. H suggested I should affix one in my car when the initial euphoria subsided and these contraptions become much more affordable. I vehemently refused. I’m not technophobic – make no mistake about it. Instead, I refuse having GPS in my car because I know I will stop learning the roads. In the same way I do not learn the way when H is seated next to me, giving directions. Having a GPS device makes my life easier and less stressful, but I think my brain dies along a little more. And I happen to like my brain because I think it happens to be my best asset.

But I succumbed the other day, in part due to my discovering that my Note II is extremely ‘intelligent’ – it often gives me updates on the traffic situation and how long it will take me to reach home via driving when I’m out. Or traffic updates to the last place I googled directions to. And I swear I didn’t consciously set up the phone for these updates. Smart eh?

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