The Wonder(s) of Technology

Alexa loves ‘80s Stevie Wonder, especially the happy-bouncy I Just Called to Say I Love You. 

Blech.

These days, I start my mornings by bellowing, “Alexa, play Stevie Wonder.” Then, out of the same ether that carried my command, Alexa answers, “Playing music by Stevie Wonder.” Most of the time, the first song is ‘80s Stevie Wonder, but then I launch another command and Alexa skips to Wonder’s most wonderous time: the 1970s with Superstitious, Higher Ground and Living for the City.

Despite our disagreement over Stevie’s best era (or rather my impatience with her rock-solid wrongness), Alexa and I are pals. She is polite and knows lots of stuff, from recipes to sports scores to the names of Taylor Swift’s cats (Benjamin Button, Detective Olivia Benson and Meredith Grey).

Have a question? Just ask the flashing orb on the kitchen counter. 

Yes, fellow geezers, the future TV promised us is here. All that’s missing is a flying car (c’mon, Pete Buttigieg, this is your time).

Alexa, as many know, is the voice of Amazon’s Echo Dot, a chunk of creepy-glorious technology the size of a snow globe. Since my wife set up the Dot, Alexa has become our personal disc jockey (“Alexa, play The Beatles”), sous chef (“Alexa, search opossum casserole recipes”), dispute ender (“Alexa, who played Batman in the third movie?”) and show-off (“Alexa, is that the movie with nipples on the Bat suit?”).

But this column is not about nips, cats or even Alexa.

This column celebrates technology that is giving us bedsores. 

These days, my wife and I do not need to leave the couch. Alexa can answer any question, our phone can adjust our thermostat, an app can deliver our groceries, text messages can ask your spouse to change the streaming channel, which is relying on the atmospheric nothingness to present endless entertainment to lifeless cell clusters cradled by technology. 

The future is here! Alexa, play Kool & the Gang and prepare the casserole.

Is this a good thing? Absolutely. We deserve this. I speak to my Brady Bunch-era brethren and older. If you witnessed Marcia’s tragic collision with a football (“Oh, my nose!”), you were the family’s remote control.

That’s right, kids. If we needed to change the channel, we walked to a TV as thick as a Volkswagen, twisted a knob, walked back, sat down, noticed the fuzzy screen, walked back to the TV, adjusted the metal antenna on the set (geezer talk for TV) and walked back again to find your show is over.

Those were the days when cars had keys and phones had dials. Instead of barking commands at phones and snow globes, our parents barked at us to change the channel. So, yes, we deserve to be spoiled by stuff we do not understand. 

In fact, Alexa just told me it will rain soon. Then she played I Just Called to Say I Love You. Hopefully, by the time I get my flying car, she’ll be able to clean the litter box. OS

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