GPS Dependence

The development of global positioning satellite (GPS) technology has been a major advance for the military and for a wide range of industries, especially those related to transportation.  Now available in cell phones, in vehicles and in other mobile devices, GPS has, in my opinion, produced negative consequences as well.

Many humans are becoming dependent on this technology, using it to navigate unfamiliar terrain, including portions of their own home town that they seldom visit.  In doing so, they gradually lose touch with the external clues to their location, paying little attention to the topography through which they move.  This is especially unfortunate when they travel to new areas of the country or regions of the globe; focused on the GPS screen, they follow a network of roads and miss the unique natural and cultural features of the landscape.

Of most concern, GPS systems, like many forms of modern technology, gradually diminish our ability to function without their assistance.  Not long ago, humans paid close attention to their natural environment, including the sun position, drainage patterns and vegetative cover to sense their location within a landscape and, if necessary, to find their way home.  Today, devoid of printed maps and relying on GPS, many individuals become helpless when that signal is lost.