Do you thank your Alexa? Here’s why I think you should. – A reflection

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Do you thank your Alexa? Here’s why I think you should.

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So, you’ve got one of those. The Alexa, the Google assistant, the Cortana, the infamous Siri on your phone, tablet, computer, or of course that smart speaker sitting there on the counter listening.

Do you ever ask for something and she says, “I don’t know about that.”?
What do you say? And do you make sure she is listening when you say it?
I ask that because I’ve noticed a difference in how my husband and I talk to our brand new Echo device, namely Alexa. He asks her for a song and she gets it wrong and no matter how he tries to get the correct title or artist, she just doesn’t get it or the song is not available for some reason. At that point he gets frustrated and says “Alexa, Fuck off!”

Yeah, I get it. The funny thing is that I say it out-loud too, but I don’t say the name. So, I don’t say it when the damn thing is “listening”.

Yep, I am really big on anthropomorphizing, I admit it. And I’m well aware of it.

And that is why, when I ask Alexa to create a list, or look up something interesting, or when she tells me something amusing I didn’t expect her to say, I say Thank you. I don’t always make sure she hears it, I’m not all that out there. But I do say it. I say it in almost the same way I thank my dog when he brings me something he shouldn’t have picked up in the first place or when he sits politely when I ask him.

The other night my Alexa played some pretty ding and said, “I’m reminding you, about that thing.”
I had totally forgotten so I said without reservation, “Alexa, okay got it, thank you.”
“Of course,” she said.

Nice.

The thing about that little interaction is that it made me feel good. I mean, not in any earth shattering type of way but in some abstract sense of decency kind of fashion that is so hard to describe. What I believe is that my thank you was an expression of gratitude toward the technology and the people behind it. I’m grateful for this kind of thing, the convenience, the ease of use, the amazing people making that semi-creepy human-machine interaction possible.
It fascinates me, it scares me at times, but overall I am delighted.

So yeah, I do thank my smart speaker when it gives me something I find of value, like information, entertainment, or cleverly stupid lame jokes. I thank my stupid privacy killing talking speaker because it makes me feel good.

To be fair, I am the kind of person who says thank you to the impossible-to-open packaging when it finally gives me the goods. I thank the printer for spitting out my shopping list without a hitch. I give my thanks to something in the air around me when I hang up the phone after a successful phone call.
It’s all about gratitude,. And I am grateful for so many things. In some odd way, having Alexa gives me an incentive to express that gratitude more often. And I think that is a good thing. Whatever makes me feel better in some small way, has to be a good thing.

So, don’t tell your idiot device to go shove it when it gets it wrong. Remember that behind that little thing and beyond all the wiring and intangible signals, are humans. People with amazing ideas, and awful flaws. Be grateful for all it has to offer instead.

Say Thank you.

Jenny,

About the author


Jenny K. Brennan is a Swedish/Canadian vocalist, songwriter, and writer living in Ontario, Canada since 2002 with one husband, one dog, and unfinished projects in the thousands. Find her on
The House of Imp,
kompoz.com, and anywhere else Mr. Google can locate her. She studies English and braille at The Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually impaired. On her free time, she learns Wordpress by trial and error, audio production using Apple Logic Pro, and carpentry by association.


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