But I love maps (as you can see from the background graphic on my blog). I know, right away that marks me as an old fogey. Most Millennials wouldn't be caught dead with a paper map in their hands. They rely solely and completely on the GPS.
But what a GPS doesn't give you is context. And the problem with Millennials is that they don't know where they're going ... or what they're doing.
I remember when I began to teach my daughter how to drive. She was 16 years old, and we had lived in the same house for her entire life. I had her drive around our neighborhood a few times; then I decided she was ready to venture into town, less than two miles away. So my daughter navigated the car out to the intersection with the main road, and then she stopped at the stop sign. We sat there in the car for a minute.
"It's okay," I told her. "You can go now."
She looked to the right, and looked to the left. I thought she was checking for traffic. But there was no traffic.
"You can go now," I said again.
Then she looked at me. "Which way do I turn?"
"Right!" I said. "Turn right!"
She made the turn, and we got to town, at which point I asked her: "Really, you didn't know which way to turn? You've been living here for 16 years, and you don't know how to get to town?"
"Well," she said defensively. "Why should I? Someone else has always been driving. I've never had to pay attention."
A couple of years later, as a senior in high school, she got her senior license which meant she could drive after dark, so she could start driving herself to the aquatic center where her team practiced. Now, I admit, this was a more challenging voyage than getting to town. The pool was about 15 miles away and involved making as many as a dozen turns.
But again, she had no idea how to drive there, even though by that time she'd been there probably 200 times. I gave her detailed, explicit directions, and she did make the trip successfully. Afterward, I asked her how she visualized driving to the swimming pool. "Do you kind of see a map in your mind, and follow the map?" I said. "Or do you think in terms of written directions -- turn right here, then left there?"
And she said, "I don't see a map. I memorize the directions."
Later I asked one of her friends on the team. The friend saw what I see -- a map in her head. She could picture where she was going, and so she never got lost.
So, I hope you understand why it's better to have a map -- a hard copy in front of you, and a visual copy in your head. Then you know where you are. You can see the context. You can picture where you're going. And if you do get lost, you know where you are in relation to the rest of the world, and you can find your way back on track.
But these kids, with their GPS, they just don't have to know anything. All they need is an address; they enter the street number; and the GPS takes them there. But in the meantime, they have no idea where they are, and no idea where they're going.
It all started with cellphones ... which is a kind of GPS for time instead of distance. Why do you need to make plans when you have a cellphone? You want to meet someone? You just go wherever you're going, whenever you want, and if you decide to meet someone you just give them a call. Or a text. Oh, don't get me started on texting!
Now, I know a lot of you use a GPS. And of course we all use cellphones and many of us text (I text because it's the only way I can communicate with my children). But come on, help me out here. Someone has to keep up standards!