Does the GPS Know Something I Don’t?

Yesterday I had dinner plans with a friend for Thai food at 5:30, right in the middle of rush hour. So I entered the destination into Google Maps on my phone, selected the fastest route based on traffic, and headed out.

It ended up being a surreal drive. The GPS wanted me to take a certain road to the highway, but as soon as I got on that road, I knew it was a mistake–it was really congested. So I turned off onto an alternate road I knew would take me to the destination.

This is where it got weird. I was a few blocks away from a key turn when the GPS told me to turn onto a road I had never heard of before. I had a few seconds to process the idea. Was Google telling me that the other road was closed? Was there more traffic on that road? What does it know that I do not?!

I doubted myself and yielded to the GPS. It took me on an interesting route that ended up with me in the right place with minimal traffic, so I guess it worked.

It was a really odd experience. Before, when Google Maps didn’t know about traffic or road closures, I wouldn’t have listened to it when it told me to detour from the familiar route.

But now the GPS knows more than I do. It didn’t feel right, but it also didn’t lead me astray, so perhaps it’s time for me to trust the machine more than my admittedly poor sense of direction.

Have you ever had this happen? Who do you trust more, yourself or Google Maps?

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