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GPS Generation

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When I was a child, my mother would experience great angst over the art of direction. She has always been geographically challenged (at trait which, unfortunately, I inherited) and couldn't understand how people got places using sub-par directions. She gave excellent directions, and taught me to do the same...

I remember the exact day we realized direction problems were almost obsolete. Mapquest. It revolutionized everything.

We were at a family friend's house and my mother was going through her normal routine--double checking her driving instructions for missing data points, when someone offered a service directly from above. I remember my mother's excitement upon hearing that the internet could now tell us how to get from point A to point B.

The first generation of navigational systems was famous for its glitches. From mapquest sending us down roads that simply did not exist, to the GPS lady in my grandfather's Escalade instructing us to make a U-turn on the freeway (advice that they should not have tempted him with)... the first round of nav systems left much to be desired.

Cut to 2011 and these systems have become our life force. If my phone shuts off in traffic I literally have no idea where I am or how I got there. They are no longer used predominantly for directions either. New advanced GPS devices and social media enthusiasm have upped the anty of GPS. It has become everything.

How do we get to the nearest Starbucks/gas station/restaurant/your friend's house/where are you going/where have you been/how far away are you/where is the nearest hook-up/can I link my phone to yours through google location/what is the street view of East St. Louis..? All questions that can now be answered through GPS.

The social media/GPS frenzy is fantastically unnerving. All my friends are constantly checking us in to different locations. I find it problematic on a personal level because I have been caught stretching the truth through these social media devices. And on a criminal justice level because I am part of the FBI's secret stalking task force. Just kidding.

What gets displaced by these technologies? Have we lost sight of where we are? Do these instructions actually make it harder for us to get from point A to point B?

Cheers to the GPS generation, we don't necessarily know where we are, but we can probably locate you...


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