Amazon Echo Is the New Mother's Little Helper

by Kari Anne Roy
Originally Published: 

This is why I recently purchased an Amazon Echo.

I know, I know. Shut up. The long ear of Jeff Bezos is now in my kitchen, categorizing and quantifying all of my thoughts and feelings and musical taste (or lack thereof). His little roboticized gerbils are skittering their AI asses off as they catalogue my every whim into a giant Amazon Skynet of Big Brother Apocalyptic Consumer Tragedy.

It used to be, Mommy’s Little Helper was a nice calming narcotic. Then it was an energizing and brain-focusing stimulant. Now? It’s a stealthy black tube that actually listens to you when you say, “Put eggs on the grocery list” instead of arguing with you about how many eggs are already in the fridge, how expensive eggs are, and how the grocery store never stocks the non-evil-empire eggs you prefer to scramble for children who will not eat them.

The stealthy black tube has a soothing voice. She listens to your requests and complies. When she doesn’t understand you, she doesn’t yell “WHAT?” or worse, ignore you completely. She can hear you over loud music. She never wears earbuds or watches iCarly.

When someone is doing homework and can’t remember the capital of Paraguay, they do not have a chance to deride their mother for not knowing; they can demand the answer of the black tube, and the black tube will blandly respond with (what we all hope and assume is) the correct answer.

The black tube trumps recreational drug abuse to just get through the day, because the black tube is a good listener. Also, it tells you the weather outside without forcing you to watch, hear or see advertising about back fat or (ironically?) prescription medication. The black tube assists you when you need it most, like figuring out how in the ever-loving fuck to convert grams of flour into cups of flour.

The black tube is the sin and the confessor.

©Scott Lewis/flickr

I understand why people would have concerns about a device that sits “innocuously” in the house, filled with microphones, while permanently connected to a ubiquitous retailer intent on destroying every other retailer in the country. Believe me, there is a haze of discomfort when I think about willingly trading privacy for convenience. But also? I can shout, “Play some Joan Jett,” and the black tube complies with no obvious judgment.

I figure my every move is already being sliced and diced and sold to the highest bidder. Search engine queries, Facebook posts, tweets, weird metadata on my cell phone browser… technology is all up in my craw already. So I will listen to your dire warnings about my black tube, but I will also probably just shrug and shout, “ADD PEAS TO MY SHOPPING LIST!”

In order to get my knickers in a twist about this current, potentially ruinous privacy situation, I will also have to twist my knickers about everything else that has its cartoon-like smoke fingers in my business. And that is a lot of things. A lot of time will have to be involved in my worry about these things, and then a lot of time will have to be spent either disengaging myself from modern technology, thus living like it’s 1999, or constantly fearing having my personal shizz thrown all over the Internet.

Is it a comfort to think of all the other people whose shizz is inextricable from modern technology? I mean, kind of. There are a lot of us out there, y’all, and we are all Googling stupid shit and paying our mortgages online. I’m not saying I want us all to be virtually exposed, I’m just saying it’s a hefty worry when the only true solution is to remove ourselves from the conveniences that make living in the future, well, living in the future.

So, yes. Over the admonitions of my dear tinfoil hat-wearing peers, I bought the Echo. I’m sure Siri is jealous and Google is hiding in my bushes, but, honestly, it doesn’t make me feel any more gross than I already feel. And that is more than I can say for Mommy’s Little Helpers of the past.

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