I’m not sure if Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader? is still on television. I haven’t seen it lately on my daily ring-around-the-channels game. I don’t have cable service because I had it once and quickly learned that my monthly financial layout just provided me with more options that I didn’t like. So basically instead of having only 10 channels to choose from, I had 70, all of which played different versions of the same insipid nonsense. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to watching something insipid or mindless. When Maury advertises his show by saying “You know you watch!” I look quickly around the room to be sure nobody is checking my reaction. I’d just rather not pay for the privilege of wallowing in stupidity when I can just as effectively do it for free.
Somehow I digressed, which seems to occur with great frequency in the land of the golden years. See, I’m doing it again. Back to the subject at hand: lately I have been questioning the “intelligence” of many of the items that we use on a daily basis, and to ask a similar question: “Am I smarter than my GPS?”
Not long ago I drove into New York City. In no way did I expect this to be easy, and the route to my destination was fraught with construction, one-way streets, rude and ruthless drivers (don’t even get me started on that one), double-parked delivery trucks, idling taxis and pedestrians who clearly believe they possess a superpower that protects them from injury by moving vehicle.
This was just a one-day “in and out” trip, and I had no expectation that getting out of the city would be any easier. I practiced deep breathing, anti-road-rage visualization and prepared for the worst. Imagine my utter amazement when the route took me along a wide, lightly traveled (for NYC) and tree-lined boulevard, with reasonably polite drivers, no double-parked, over-sized moving trucks and pedestrians who actually used the crosswalks and waited for the light to change. I don’t generally talk to inanimate objects, but made an exception since I was alone in the car. I politely asked why my highly intelligent GPS didn’t manage be logical enough to use this nice route both times. I may even have said something like, Na Na, I am SMARTER than YOU!
It is common, I am sure, for people my age to have a love-hate relationship with cell phones, I-Pads, GPS, Siri and computers. I vividly remember reading maps, knowing my own telephone number by heart, and getting weather reports by actually stepping outside and looking around. But now I have DEVICES that talk back to me and try to make me feel foolish and ignorant. Wait, didn’t I have children for that?