Life Before Smartphones 5 of 5: Navigating Your Way Out of a Big City in the days before Smartphones
Let’s say you’re driving in a city you never visited before—feeling cool and confident and hip—and then, when it’s time to go home and tell the tribe of your daring adventure, you discover you’re not quite the homing pigeon you thought you were. You haven’t got a clue how to escape the madness of the busy streets, back to the peace and quiet of your nice little suburb!
Well, without a Smartphone to provide you with extremely detailed directions via GPS satellite, you’d have to reach into your leather satchel and pull out a fresh roll of parchment and, with quill pen, start compiling a hand-drawn map while you methodically drive through every street in the city one by one. If you’re fastidious enough you’ll eventually end up with a basic idiot’s map of the entire city. Of course, a city map wouldn’t mean anything to you by itself. It’s just squiggles and lines. Very confusing. You’d have to study the map for hours, searching for patterns in civic engineering that might suggest where the ancient city planners intended for the primary flow of traffic to enter and exit the bustling prospective metropolis. Then you could merely visit these points one by one until you found the on-ramp to the freeway.
I can pretty much guess, verbatim, what you’re thinking: oh, those clever pre-Smartphone humans! Getting from Point A to Point B was so much simpler and easier back in their day! We sure could learn a thing or two from their long lost, yet surprisingly-well-developed navigational methods! The old ways are the best ways, so on and so forth. But are they? Let’s think about this for a minute or two, Readers. Yeah, sure, at first glance it certainly appears that in the days before Smartphones, if push came to shove, people sure knew how to find their way out of a big city. But if you really sit down and think about it for more than a few seconds, it starts to become evident that the methods described in the above paragraph are rather old fashioned and unreliable. I mean, put yourself in their place. What we’ve discussed demands an awful lot of logical thinking on your part, and if you got so terribly lost in the city in the first place you’re not exactly tommy-gunning me with confidence here. I mean, are you really going to be able to logically analyze a hand-drawn city map and get on the same mental wavelength as 200-years-dead Harvard-educated builders and city- engineers? More than likely you’d get bored and start drawing squiggle lines all around the border of your map. And hearts. In some extreme cases, you’d do this until you starved.
No. No, I’m pretty sure finding your way out of a big city is much easier with a Smartphone by your side. You can just plug in your home address and the Smartphone will tell you exactly how to weave your way out of the scary city and get there.
Nobody cry, but that about wraps up our 5-part educational series “Life Before Smartphones.” If you have studied hard and read every article in the series, you are probably qualified to know whether or not life was more convenient before or after Smartphones. And—though I’d love to take your word for it—there will be a brief quiz in the following post to help reinforce what we have learned. But don’t sweat it; though I will not release an official “study guide,” you can prepare for the quiz by re-reading and “liking” all five lessons, twice.
Don’t screw this up. I’ll even make it easy for you. Here are the links to every post in this groundbreaking educational series:
Life Before Smartphones
Playing “Angry Birds”
Making a Late Night “Booty Call”
Taking Down a Girl’s Number
Navigating Your Way Out of a Big City
I cannot talk to you anymore until after the quiz.