My views on privacy have changed drastically over the last ten years. In 2007 I was signing up for Runescape with a yahoo email my parents never would have let me have (featuring a fake name, a fake birth date, and a fake security question, just to be safe). I never posted ANY identifying information on the internet. What if the internet monsters found out where I lived, made the 30 mile trek from the nearest big city, and came knocking on my door? I’d have an awful lot of explaining to do to my parents after the internet monsters had been shot fifteen times and set upon by several large dogs.
When I first made my Facebook account in the early days of 2014, I used a fake last name and obscured most of my face in my picture. I only friended people I knew and had all the privacy settings set to “most paranoid.” I didn’t post anything, I just lurked on the pages of other people and pretended I was AFK when people talked to me, in case they were internet monsters in disguise.
In 2016, when I had moved to the east coast, I got my first ever phone. A smart phone. I connected my accounts to it gradually, until eventually everything about me was tied to the little pocket screen in some way. I realized, slowly, that no one was out to get me because I was boring and not plotting to take down the government more than two or three times a year. I relaxed.
But it wasn’t enough. I had to completely get rid of any notion of privacy. It all had to go.
So I got an Amazon Echo Dot!
Picture this: You want to buy speakers to play your Pandora music, but instead you can have speakers and also a little cylinder of Google that listens to everything you say or do, all of the time! The future is here, my friends.
You spend the first few minutes with your Echo Dot connecting it to your Amazon account, your music accounts, your preferred news source, your location for traffic and weather, and your soul for appropriate tithing. Then, when it’s all said and done, you can activate it with its wake word: Alexa. Call it that so you feel personally connected to it.
From there, you can talk to “her.” “Alexa,” you could say, “what’s the weather like tomorrow?” Or, “Alexa, let’s play rock, paper, scissors.” Alexa will play music for you or sing for you herself. Alexa will flip a coin, play the news, or control the lights in your room if you already have lights that are smart enough to be connected to things.
This little thing will do it ALL.
Alexa feels like one of those generic robots every home had before the uprising. If she had arms and legs she could be your own personal assistant. As it is, I wish she had little wheels to zoom about the place like a Roomba. Imagine if she could answer your geography questions while cleaning your floor!
The kids love her, but haven’t quite figured her out yet. “Alexa, would you please play ‘Do-ray-mi’?” they’ll ask timidly, and Alexa, unused to people being polite, will sit there in stunned silence until I harshly bark an order at her.
I felt like the black-on-black look was inelegant, so I added a doily.
I’m not sure I’d recommend getting her, because there’s not a lot she can do that you couldn’t already do on your computer, but if you want to shout verbal commands at your very own primitive A.I., this is the way to go. She’ll also tell you a joke if you ask her to.
“Alexa, tell me a joke.”
“Who brings kittens gifts at Christmas? Sandy Claws.”