The problem with GPS is that when you use it, you can get where you’re going but not know where you are.
Not that I don’t love my Global Positioning System and not that it hasn’t saved my bacon a time or two.
I do and it has.
But by counting on it to get me to my destination, I often lose all perspective on my surroundings.
Take Palm Springs, for example.
We were there recently for an event and found our way from lodgings to concerts solely with the help of our trusty GPS system.
As a result, I have no idea which way was north, how far away we were from the main downtown (which never appeared in our direct-to-direct travel), how big the cities are in between, how close we were to Los Angeles and all those other fun facts that just come at you without any effort of your own when you find your way around with …. gotta say it ….. a map.
A map. That thing on paper that folded out but never up, that you turned this way and that as you studied it and ran your finger along trying to read the tiny print while the driver was frustrated with you because you just told him to turn down a one-way street. Going the wrong way.
Many marriages are happier as a result of that calm voice on the GPS that seems to know not only when it’s better to turn right than left, but can calmly re-direct when you didn’t follow her recommendations precisely.
Beyond that, she has an ability no map-reader would ever develop, to know about the latest road conditions.
“There is an accident ahead,” she told me last week. “But you are still on the fastest route.”
How did she know I would have bolted as soon as the slowing started? Her recommendation saved me from my usual get-off-the-freeway-and-stop-at-stoplights-and-stop-signs-every-block-because-at-least-you’re-moving folly.
Sometimes I turn on my GPS even when I’m going someplace I’ve gone before – just for the company – only to find she knows a better route than the one I’ve pursued for years.
She has let me down on occasion. But has more than made up for it on most.
Which leads me to news and newspapers. Stay with me here.
You can get your news from an electronic device if you choose.
It can tell you what it knows about a specific event or issue.
But you don’t get the whole picture unless you have a newspaper – on paper – in your hands.
Just like a map, there will be more information than you need to get to a certain point, but knowing it will make your life richer.
Take our Oct. 27 edition, for example.
If you were interested to know about the progress of the new city hall controversy, you would find it.
But you would also find out more about the annual bison roundup, a controversy in Farmington over who should pay for sidewalk improvements, the sentencing of a man accused of kidnapping, plus insights from a national expert on education, how highway patrol officers are enforcing high-occupancy-vehicle lane violations, an addition to the local aerospace museum, community events, holiday activities and more.
And even if you read only the headlines, or only the headline and the lead paragraphs, it could give you perspective you would otherwise have missed.
Yes you can find it online, just like you can find every other dang thing. But it’s better in print.
And it supports an industry vital to a free society too by the way.
It’s news not only that you seek out because you’re interested in it, but news that you might find of interest if you let it come to you.
It’s not necessary to have one at the exclusion of the other – for directions or news.
Get where you’re going and know where you are.