Christine Porter Blog post "Take Ballina Road, traffic is light"

Take Ballina Road, traffic is light.

Today my phone exhorted me to drive a particular route to go to a destination I hadn’t asked about. At first amused, I became puzzled, then incensed. How dare this small plastic box presume to a) know where I wanted to go, and b) decide the best way for me to get there. What was it’s criteria, I wondered, for deciding that speed would be my journey of choice?

What if it was the road less travelled I needed today, or a particular high road, or for that matter, low road? What if today was a smell the roses sort of day? Or an only turning left day? Or a Sunday Driving day, or a testing out the springs day, or a fiddle-faddle around until it’s time for that appointment day? What if my high road, or low road, became the destination itself, and took me anywhere but where I’d set out to go this morning? What if that was ok too? What if it was better than ok, and I’d discovered something I had no idea was there?

It’s hard to google somewhere if you don’t know it exists.

If everyone only went the way that “everyone” says is best, we’d all end up in the same place: lemmings sacrificed to the alter of the middle ground. If our only concern was the most efficient way to get from Point A to Point B, then are we not missing something? Not for nothing are words such as serendipity so joyously onomatopoeic.

Google maps, I have a few words for you: if I need your advice I’ll ask for it – but even then I may not take it. When I get in my car – and for car read LIFE – let me be the one to make the decisions about what my purpose is, and how the journey pans out.

Let me find my way, or lose my way as the case may be. Let me drive to the sound of a different GPS. Let me discover the corners of my town not listed as important by you. Let me get lost so I can find my own way back, learn the map of my town in my own head, develop a way to save myself – because we all know , though so few of us experience this fully now, that the internet is fickle, that mobile range is precarious and that phone batteries go flat.

Google maps, thank you for what you do. In other people’s towns I appreciate your wisdom, but I did without you for all those decades before ideas like blue-tooth-connectivity sold more cars than the size of their motors.

I like you, Google Maps, you and your cousin Siri, but I don’t need you.

And don’t presume that my increasing dependence on you is an imperative, nor irreversible.
It’s my car, my choices, my journey.
You’re welcome to come along for the ride.

But just remember, I’ll be the one driving.


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