Column: Why Fi?

Column: Why Fi?


“That’s the dream; to have Wi-Fi in the car.” So says one of the focus group participants (“real people, not actors”) in a recent television commercial from Chevrolet. The answer is to a question asked of five adults to identify which car brand: Mercedes, BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, or Toyota, includes “Built-in Wi-Fi” in their product line. Of course, to every one’s surprise (presumably the viewers at home, too), Chevrolet is the only brand to include this answer to a prayer (dream, actually).

For whatever reason (guess: old school; try ancient school), I’ve never asked this question of a car dealer or of a higher power (not the same). I don’t see the need. I don’t understand the benefit. I don’t want the distraction. If I have passengers in the car, I’m likely talking with them. And I’m probably also listening to and fussing with the radio at the same time. Maybe I’m even fidgeting with the on-board/in-dash GPS as well. And of course, my cell phone is always at the ready (sitting on the seat between my legs), set to vibrate so I won’t miss any incoming calls which would likely take precedence over any and all other activities (God forbid I should miss an incoming call). How does yet another element, one that offers infinitely more access and possibilities than all the other devices combined, improve my driving experience? As one who more often than not drives alone, how does free Internet access (that’s really what Wi-Fi is, right?) in the car enhance my life rather than complicate it?

Now that I have asked the question, do I care about the answer? My car gets me from a point “A” to point “B.” Learning about points “C” through “Z” doesn’t necessarily interest me – in the car. I’m not looking for adventure when I’m driving; safety, security, convenience, reliability, above-average gas mileage, I am. Nor am I looking for self-actualization or self-improvement, or given the potential uninterrupted flow of Internet information, self-sustainability; I should be looking in my side- and rear-view mirrors, windows, angles; for cars stopping and starting, turning and reversing (including my own), and at all other vehicles on the road: front and back, side to side, doing all the things I should be doing – other than focusing on Wi-Fi. Despite being told otherwise, my car is not my mobile office, nor is it a library; and it most certainly is not an entertainment center or a condensed version of my home’s “great room” (which I don’t have anyway, although many do). Despite what Cat Stevens sang way back when, I am not on the road to find. I’m simply on the road to get out – and go. I’m not looking to improve my mind (“what there is of it”) when I’m driving, only to occupy it with the task/direction-I-need-to-go at hand; and not with questions and answers I’ll be tested on later on my home/laptop computer as I cross-purpose myself on my multi-device “connectability.” Sometimes when I’m driving in the car, I’m looking for peace and quiet, not answers to anything, prayers or otherwise.

Generally speaking, I want to drive to survive to arrive alive. I don’t want to drive to thrive. I may want to drive too gently for some; but that’s for another column. Does my being in the car have to be a learning experience – other than knowing the route to my destination? Can’t we just leave well enough alone when I am alone. Sure I want to “live long and prosper,” “think and grow rich” and continue to obliterate my original “13-month to two-year” stage IV, non-small cell lung cancer prognosis, so can’t what happens on the Internet stay on the Internet and leave me in my car out if it?