Wednesday, March 20, 2024

She doesn't say it, but Alexa thinks she's better than me

We have, I think, five or six Amazon Echo/Dot devices scattered around our house. They can do a lot of different things, but I interact with them in only three ways:

  • To turn the lights on and off in our bedroom
  • To play background music when I'm engaged in a particularly tedious or time-consuming task
  • To play the Question of the Day trivia game

These little "digital assistants" do a great job with the first two items. I particularly like the way they seamlessly integrate with your streaming music service, which in our case is Apple Music.

As for the Question of the Day, that usually goes off without a hitch, too. I play it most days and do fairly well, as I'm somewhat of a trivia guy. (Some might also say I'm somewhat of a "trivial" guy, but that's another discussion for another day.)

My only complaint is the passive-aggressive way Alexa  the default name of the disembodied Echo/Dot voice  sometimes treats me when I'm trying to answer that day's question.

For instance, almost invariably when I fire up the app, Alexa will try and get me to subscribe to the Question of the Day Trivia Club, which costs money.

My response to her offer is always "no."

I don't mind these commercial pitches, by the way. Question of the Day is free to play, and I feel the Amazon people are within their rights to try and upsell me if they so choose.

It's just that, when I tell her no, Alexa usually responds with a cheery "No worries!"

"No worries" implies that I've inconvenienced her and that Alexa herself is magnanimously forgiving me. Which isn't the case at all. I'm allowed to say no, Alexa. I've done nothing wrong.

Even worse is when I finish the game and then she tries to sell me on something. Again I'll say "no," but instead of an irritating "No worries!", Alexa will often simply say nothing. The game just ends without even a "Goodbye!"

I interpret this silence as disappointment or outright contempt. And again, I deserve neither. It is my right to turn down her offers of a subscription or an additional game without having to feel guilty about it.

At least that's what I tell myself. As the silence between us lingers and becomes increasingly awkward, I find myself inwardly defending the decision to say no to an electronic device. As if I need validation that I'm still a good person.

I appreciate Alexa's constant readiness to serve. But her smug superiority and utter disdain for me as a person cancel out anything she does right.

I will not let you shame me, Alexa.

Or maybe I will.

Either way, please stop it.

No comments:

Post a Comment