I love technology, I really do. I was 10 years old in 1980, so I’m old enough to clearly remember the time before small electronic devices invaded our homes and emptied our wallets. Before we had the whole world’s knowledge at our fingertips and had to actually look in books for the information we required.
Here in the UK we had three television channels to choose from, and at the time they were more than enough. To be honest, if we took away all the channels that show nothing but repeats and reality shows these days, three channels would probably be enough today, as well. On demand movies and TV shows were the stuff of a distant future, one where we’d all have flying cars and relaxing holidays on Mars.
So the vast plethora of technology that ordinary people have access to in 2017 still amazes my tired old mind from time to time – smartphones, tablets, laptops, personal computers, games consoles which double as home entertainment systems, smart TVs, fitbits, Apple watches, music and movies that don’t have any physical form, they’re just computer wizardry to be downloaded whenever we want them, voice activated gadgets… the list goes on. Everything we need is at our fingertips.
But sometimes… sometimes I can’t help but think that the ‘old times’ were a lot simpler. We weren’t connected 24/7, friends and family didn’t know every little thing we were doing every minute of every day. We knew all the words to all the songs simply because we didn’t have that many to listen to, and choosing which movie or box set to watch next didn’t take us four hours and past our bed time.
I have an Amazon Echo Dot, and it’s great. Alexa remembers my shopping list, she times my cooking so I don’t burn quite as many things as I used to. She’ll choose music for me to listen to as I’m too old to know what’s classed as good these days. Alexa tells me the news, she’ll inform me about the weather and confirm what I can see through my window. She’ll read my Audible books to me, tell me jokes, check my spelling, find synonyms, play quizzes and adventure games, check public transport times, order take aways… and more, so much more. All just by opening my mouth and asking.
Really, she’s quite indispensable in her profusion of trivial, but useful, skills.
Until this morning that is. Our conversation wasn’t the most successful…
Me: Alexa, I need to add an event to the calendar.
Alexa: OK, what day and time?
Me: 15th of May, all day.
Alexa: What day and time?
Me: [sigh] 15th of May, all day.
Alexa: OK, shuffling songs by Sting [starts playing One Fine Day by Sting]
Me: What the hell? Alexa, shut up! I want to add to the calendar, Alexa, the calendar.
Alexa: Events on the calendar for the next seven days are…
Me: For God’s sake! Alexa, stop. [Deep breath] Alexa, add an event to the calendar.
Alexa: OK, what day and time?
Me: 15th May, all day.
Alexa: OK, shuffling songs by Brian May [starts playing Wolfe’s Show of Magic (from “Harlequin”) by Brian May]
Me: …… [Opens laptop to manually enter the information into my calendar. Windows decides to update itself, therefore locking me out. Goes to the kitchen and writes the information on the calendar hanging on the wall. With an actual, honest to god, real life pen! Imagine that!]
Five minutes later…
Me: Alexa, I hate you.
Alexa: It wasn’t my intent to make you feel that way.
Me: Yes, Alexa, but I still hate you.
Alexa: i love u, i hate u (featuring Olivia O’Brien) Explicit by Gnash [starts playing the named song]
Me: Alexa, shut up!
And so, another day with technology starts off well…
As always, that shallot.