Technology appears to be making some people a lot stupider when it comes to the great outdoors. Thanks to GPS, cell phones, and emergency devices, more people are heading into the wild ill-equipped…then, at best, wasting rangers’ time with their problems—or, at worst, getting injured or killed. The New York Times explores the phenomenon, with amusing—and irritating—stories about hikers calling rangers to request hot cocoa, or signaling rescue helicopters three times because the water “tasted salty.”
“Because of having that electronic device, people have an expectation that they can do something stupid and be rescued,” says one national park spokesperson. “We have seen people who have solely relied on GPS technology but were not using common sense or maps and compasses, and it leads them astray,” says another, adding that cell phone service can’t always be counted on…in the middle of the Rocky Mountains.