There’s a flip side to almost everything, unless of course you’re already on the flip side.
Take GPS for instance. It’s great to know where you are – but is it great to have everyone else know where you are … all the time? Well, it might be great if your GPS tracker just told the rescuers where you are located because you pressed the SOS button. Or perhaps your car reported that it appeared to be rolling down the mountain perpendicular to the roads.
All that GPS magic might not be so good, however, if your last boyfriend-girlfriend (insert gender of choice) is tracking you, looking for an opportune time to even the perceived score. Some things are better kept private, and at that point your location is one of them.
Sometimes it has nothing to do with you. If you were walking down the street in the same block and at the same time and were not far from where one of these perceived scores was violently settled, would you want your exact location revealed to the police or anyone else? You just became a suspect. Why? Because you were present at the time and scene of the crime. You are now expected to prove your innocence, not the other way around. In the meantime, officials will go back through your movements over time to build their case. Or maybe they will build another case for something else entirely. After all, they have your data.
GPS was originally a military project, because they thought it would be a better way to navigate to and drop their bombs on the right target. The rest of us used maps. Airplanes used navigational beacons. GPS gave the military more precision and greater accuracy, which is important when you do what they do. The only bombs most of us drop today are on social media, and it would probably be a blessing if we missed the mark more often than not.
Maps give us context, too. We used to call this “the bigger picture.” GPS often gives us step-by-step instructions, but without any context. “Turn left right now, because I said so!” No notion of where that will take you, for instance through a part of the city you might rather avoid at that time of day. For the system to work, it requires your blind trust and obedience.
In that sense it’s a lot like government, isn’t it?
By the way, the military frequently messes with GPS, so that it provides false information. Pilots know this, because most of them have experienced it. That is the sort of thing you would want to do to an enemy, especially if he were using it for a bombing run.
Once again, a lot like government, isn’t it? Or is it a revelation to you that government might lie to you, in furtherance of its own purposes? Perhaps that’s the flip side of government service.
Oops, darn! Missed my turn. Time to pull out a map and see exactly where I am … in the grand scheme of things. But following all those step-by-step instructions is so seductively easy, isn’t it?
Check out Craige’s “Armageddon” series of books at his website, craigemcmillan.com.
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