Technology – Friend or Foe?
I’ve been traveling to Eswatini a lot this year. Some months, I have been in Eswatini from Tuesdays to Thursdays and then when I come home there’s almost enough time to catch up on things. I glance through my personal emails and sometimes do a bit of grocery shopping, fulfil some of my work obligations and off I go again. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining, life for me is a wondrous adventure. The thing is that most of the time, I have gone with someone, but in the last month the dreaded “solo trip” finally happened.
To be honest I was a bit nervous. Even though I have made this trip many times, and even though I often drive part of the way, it seems that I need to be reminded to turn right just after the traditional Wimpy breakfast stop every single time. For me, the instinct to just keep driving straight is very strong. I was not afraid of what would happen when I reached my destination. I was well equipped for my appointments. The question for me was, was I going to find myself in Europe or something. Yep, driving all the way to the top of Africa and crossing over a body of water didn’t seem to be something that couldn’t happen to me. Getting lost seems to be a hobby.
Those who know me for more than one week, realise pretty soon that I don’t understand geography. If you say the word navigation, I think of the Dakar rally. One person driving madly across the desert with the passenger shouting directions off a map. But these days this prestigious race doesn’t even touch the African continent so when even these guys seem directionally challenged, how was I supposed to know how to follow a map.
At school, a teacher once told me that North is at the top of the map and somehow this fact contorted into me believing that everything in front of me is north, no matter which direction I am facing (hint it is not). I think West is always on my left and to be clear – before I say even that out loud, I find myself spelling out W-E, “We – so West in on the left just like the W is on the left of the word.” I say that under my breath each time just in case East is on my left.
So that is where Lady Google comes in. I have a difficult relationship with her. Lady Google with her pompous, “In 300 meters turn left,” and then a sharp reminder, “Turn left now!”
“I heard you the first time you know,” I say out loud, rudely. I hate her. I wish I could be as much of a know-it-all as she is. I don’t like relying on technology, but I try to be nice to her because I know that one day the machines will take over the world.
Photo by Regis F on Unsplash
In fact, even if they haven’t yet dominated, they are certainly a big help. I find myself reaching for my mobile computer – yes, it is a computer that drives my telephone these days. Faster than the original Cray supercomputer, smaller than a floppy disk, my regular go-to helper sits in my pocket, the two of us an interdependent cyborg entity, rather than master and slave.
On reflection, the Eswatini trip is not a solo trip, after all. Rather, Lady-G in the navigator seat is accompanying me. Hopefully this is a good omen of things to come, where neither we nor technology dominate in a winner take all scenario but co-exist in a happy symbiosis.