Today marks one month since I introduced the family to its newest member. Her name? Alexa, my robot sister from another mister (specifically, Jeff Bezos), who arrived on Christmas Day as a gift for Mum.
I’m conflicted about it. Yes, Mum enjoys and specifically requested it, but I have a lot of ill-feeling toward that pernicious black dot. I find all such devices cold and sinister, and am convinced they’re spying on us, designed to serve only their shady overlords in hell. I can’t bear the thought of my mother, who means so much to me, having her basic rights violated. Then again, Alexa getting bossed around rather than me does also make me think: rights schmights. (Side note: I am also genuinely surprised to hear that Alexa was not renamed for the South Asian market as “Amazon Good Daughter”.)
How cheap I am, how easily bought. I comfort myself by imagining that I’m somehow getting one over on Amazon by unleashing Mum on them; that her random, oddball behaviour will skew the algorithms, like a poison spreading through the deep lake of data that big tech holds on us. I can see it now in the history books, “How were the citizens of 2020 liberated from tech hegemony? By the nonsequential thoughts of a semi-retired suburban woman repeatedly telling Alexa terrible knock-knock jokes and asking it to ‘make the remote work’ until it self-destructed.”
But I’m not even close to making peace with it. They say that giving is better than receiving, but not when it’s a gift you despise. What if you believe that the requester is making the wrong decision: is it a kindness to put your thoughts aside and make them happy, or a weakness? Perhaps having my own children someday will force me to figure this out. But in the meantime: “Alexa, knock-knock?”