Last week, we were at the Best Buy to get me a new keyboard. We started looking at the new virtual assistants for homes from different companies, thinking that we would like to purchase one. But, after much discussion about another possible way for people to hear what you say and do in the home, we decided against using Alexa to do all of the things she gets asked to do.
We based our decision on what we observed during a recent stay with my step-daughter and her family, who have several of the devices in their home. As we listened to the children and adults give orders to Alexa, I was wondered if physically doing things for ourselves will become obsolete. They asked Alexa to do so much throughout the day that I wondered if Alexa ever gets tired and wants to say, “Get up, and do it yourself!”
I wondered what it would have been like 50 years ago to have Alexa around. You could have played jump rope without having to swing the rope yourself. Just place one Alexa at each end of the rope, and say, “Alexa, swing the rope!” Voila, hands-free jump roping. Also, no one would have been hurt playing Dodge Ball, for we would have just said, “Alexa, tell Paul to duck!” Problem solved!
Parents would have asked Alexa to turn on the television or change the channel, and their children would not have had to come from upstairs to change the channels for parents too lazy to get up themselves and who obviously thought that children were the virtual assistants of their day. Voila, no bad feelings or screaming, and more people who remember their parents fondly!
Door-to-door encyclopedia salesmen would have quickly became things of the past, as all you had to do was say, “Alexa, what are the capitals of all 50 states. Speak slowly, please, while I write them down.” No need for an atlas or even school books, as one depended on Alexa for all homework questions. Voila, more time outside to play!
But, wonderfully, today there are still things that Alex cannot do for us. Alexa cannot hug our kids and spouses for us. Alexa cannot tell people all the ways that we love them and appreciate them. Alexa cannot visit people in the hospital for us or take food and comfort to grieving hearts.
Alexa cannot be with our friends in the midnight hour, when they need someone to hold them and listen as they pour out their frustrations and hurts. We simply cannot say, “Alexa, call Jill and tell her that all will be well.” We must still be striving to be physically present for these acts of kindness and caring.
And, I am thrilled that Alexa cannot do our kissing and snuggling with our significant others. Imagine my saying, “Alexa, give Douglas a kiss.” I can just hear Alexa trying to clarify, “Will that be a French kiss, a closed-mouth kiss, an open-mouth kiss, a peck on the cheek, or a quick touch on the forehead?” Oh, my, I never knew there were so many choices!
And, thank goodness, Alexa cannot bow her head in humble adoration to God for us; we must still do that for ourselves. We might ask Alexa to read a scripture or play a gospel song, but we must be the ones to go on our knees and make supplication for ourselves and for others enduring in this broken world.
So, no Alexa in this house. Maybe we are so old that we still like to do things for ourselves, so that we keep moving and exercising all parts of our bodies and minds. We don’t mind looking out the peephole to see who is at the door, for if it is someone we have not seen in a while, we want to be able to grab them in a bear hug and let the joy of seeing them shine on our faces.
But, if Alexa is your cup of tea, then I say, “Viva la Alexa!”