Do you know which Waze to go?


Do you have a sense of direction? Does anyone know how to drive or walk or cycle from point A to B? Do you own a map? What is one of the greatest inventions of all time? GPS technology. What is my most-used app on my smartphone? Waze.

My husband, David, has no sense of direction. I don’t believe he ever has. At the age of 44 David still does not know his left from right. If I tell him to go one direction he will undoubtedly travel the other way. And since he is a stubborn male, he refuses to ever ask for directions. This is the case when he doesn’t know where to go or when he is terribly lost. He prefers to feel his way. Really?

Thank goodness for the creation of the Global Positioning System, known to most of us as GPS.  It was developed by the U.S. military back in 1973. For the last couple of decades it has been widely used by the general population. I remember the early GPS devices, which did not rely on any cellular or data connection to help people navigate their way around cities and the countryside. My mother and I named our first device Martha. Martha kindly guided us through traffic and road closures on a trip to Los Angeles back in 2002, and I knew she would be one of my close friends for years.

David rejected those early commercial GPS devices and relied on a paper-based map that he draped across his lap on the highway or his preferred method, to feel his way. I believe that many people were skeptical of GPS technology. People who actually had a good sense of direction knew how to arrive successfully at their destination and those who were directionally challenged somehow found their way.

Most of us who embraced this new technology still knew how to get around on our own. Those early GPS trackers were limited and our own instincts often proved to be better. But with further advances in technology and the growing popularity of the smartphone, GPS was combined with the internet to create navigation software like Waze.

This was game-changing. While Martha was my close friend for years, Mr. Waze may be my best friend now. He doesn’t just give me directions to my destination, he gives me efficient directions. Waze takes traffic, construction and accidents into account when it calculates my route and updates it as I go along. It takes the thinking out of navigation, and I believe it has made many of us rely heavily on it. Maybe too heavily.

Even David has embraced Waze and has learned to depend on it. If David didn’t know his way around town before he definitely doesn’t now. Actually, does anyone know how to reach their destination anymore without the use of some kind of GPS technology on the smartphone?

Do a Google search for “GPS sends car into lake” or “GPS directs couple off bridge” and you will be amazed with the number of links that pop up. While I believe that most people are more intelligent than these examples, many of us probably put too much faith in GPS technology to direct us to our various destinations.

David actually finds his way now when he turns on Waze and I am much less stressed when I have to drive to a new place and don’t know how to get there. But if my smartphone battery is low or my data connection is weak I still have confidence in my own instincts and sense of direction to get me safely to my destination. I love GPS, I love Waze and so far, my brain has gotten me far in life. Between the three of them I am confident I will always reach my destination.