Jason Offutt: I don’t need a GPS to tell me I’m in Minnesota

There’s a serious problem with our society.
I don’t mean the obvious problems, like the fact that 60 percent of the population is on some form of government assistance (look it up); flying drones are above our heads with machine guns deciding who’s naughty and who’s nice, or that carbon dioxide is listed as an ingredient in cottage cheese.
I mean the fact that most people can’t do anything – anything – without some form of electronic communication.
Give me your average 20-year-old and take away his cell phone, computer, iPad and video game system. What’s he doing, other than lying in the fetal position weeping openly? Oh, yeah. Probably drooling.
There’s a psychological term called Nomophobia (No Mobile Phone phobia); the fear of being without a mobile telephone. A study commissioned by the United Kingdom Post Office found that 53 percent of mobile telephone users undergo some kind of anxiety attack when they don’t have their mobile device, or don’t have coverage.
I’ve seen this before, on Star Trek.
On the original series, an advanced civilization that had become so dependent on machines began to die off when nobody knew how to fix anything anymore. It was, “What are little girls made of?” Or, maybe, “Return of the Archons,” or, “The Menagerie.” Come to think of it, that script might have been used for the entire first season. They didn’t have a very big budget.
From a country founded by people who tamed the wilderness, wrestled bears and defeated Nazis, not being able to walk out your front door without reassurance from Facebook that everybody likes you, makes me realize one thing. Star Trek’s right. We’re all doing to die.
Well, except me. Let’s take last summer.
I had a bold idea. Looking at a wall map (not to scale), I noticed Canada was less than two inches away from where I lived. If I drove there, it would take a little more than 11 hours (I did MATH), which is about the time it takes me to drive to the in-law’s house. The beauty here is Canada is in the opposite direction.
So I went. But before I did, I asked for advice on things to take on my trip. Most of my friends suggested I couldn’t go without a GPS. I checked GPSs out and discovered three things: 1) a GPS cost as much as my TV, and I couldn’t watch The Terminator on a GPS, 2) I could get a GPS device that would guide me throughout the Upper Midwest using the voice of Snoop Dogg, and 3) why the hell would I trust Snoop Dogg to take me through Minnesota?
I got to Canada and back just fine – with a paper map. I also didn’t have cell coverage most of the way, and had to punch a bear.
I’ll survive the zombie apocalypse, or the robot apocalypse, or whatever kind of apocalypse happens that makes us not be able to play Angry Birds, because I can do things – all by myself.

Jason Offutt’s column has been in continuous publication since 1998 appearing in newspapers and magazines across the United States. Follow Jason on Twitter @TheJasonOffutt.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login