I’ve noticed a lot of people use satellite navigation in cars these days. What I find most surprising is that people use the things while driving along a motorway. For instance, when I last drove up to Scotland I spotted loads of people driving along an empty motorway with their sat-nav telling them to keep driving straight ahead. Great you might think, there’s no way the can get lost, they don’t need to think at all. They just follow the instructions and they’ll arrive with no problems!
Let me tell you a story that illustrates why I find that mentality to be bad. A few years ago an American shopping mall caught fire (I can’t remember which one). When the accident investigators came in they were bewildered by the number of fatalities. There had been plenty of time for people to escape, there were multiple fire exits and really no reason that anybody should have died at all. The answer to why lay in the location of the bodies.
The greatest concentration of bodies was in a restaurant – again with ample means of escape. It turns out that when the fire alarms sounded the staff all ran out of the restaurant to escape. However some of the customers didn’t, they didn’t want to leave until they’d paid their bills – as all good people do – so they were burned alive where they stood. Stupid right?
The fact is that most people follow scripts in their daily lives. Procedures that mean they don’t have to think about what they’re doing – like being on auto-pilot. You go in, get a table, have your drinks order taken, look at the menu, order food, eat it, pay and leave. Social conventions you might say. The problem comes when something unexpected happens. A lot of people freeze, their brains switch off and they have that rabbit-in-the-headlights look about them. They can’t adapt to an unexpected situation and so shut down.
As far as I’m concerned, once you stop thinking you’re a drone. Soldiers are trained to always think on their feet so they can react to situations rather than standing slack-jawed as enemy fire comes in. And so it is with satellite navigation (although to be fair it’s not quite up there with being burned alive in a restaurant waiting to pay).
Navigation isn’t very hard – I’ve never found myself lost and I’ve driven all over the place (well, there was that one time in LA but we got there in the end). When I go somewhere I’ve not been before I make sure I know the route, get a geographical picture in my head so as I’m driving I know where I am. If I were to start using sat-nav I’m sure I’d still get there, but if anything went wrong – like one of the GPS satellites fell out of the sky, a UFO interfered with the signal, the lousy sat-nav broke or there is a road closed ahead and I have to follow a diversion and then it broke – then I’d be far more lost than I would have been without it. I’d have been following what it told me without thinking like a good little boy and my brain would have been slowly turning to mush through inactivity.
If you don’t exercise regularly and just sit around watching TV all the time it’s no surprise that you’ll get tired walking up the stairs and consequently never get any regular exercise and just sit around watching TV all the time. You end up in a rut. If you do the same with your brain and never use it, never challenge it, you’ll spend your whole life as a drone doing what you’re told to do by adverts or articles in glossy magazines. Never thinking for yourself. You’ll be a sheep. Oh wait, that’s what most people do already isn’t it? I think I’m too late…