A few weeks ago I bought an Echo Dot. I have grown stranglely attached to the device - a little, black cylinder sold by Amazon to suck me into Jeff Bezos' alternate reality. I've cast myself into his world with abandon. And I'm starting to regret it. But only a little.
Alexa is friendly. She obeys my every command. She doesn't argue or fuss. I say "Alexa play Bryan Ferry" and the house if filled with the crooner's gentle, soft moaning. I say "Alexa turn it up" and Bryan obeys. I've barely gotten out of Alexa elementary school, but the day will soon arrive when I will say "Alexa, buy me some beer" and I can aspire to the higher state of being that Bryan seems to occupy. I imagine the day when I say "Alexa, anesthetize me" and I will submit to a mind-numbing sleep from which I can only hope to awake.
Alexa - What better way to restore narmalcy than an agreeable device that is smarter than you and can satisfy your every purchasing desire without requiring a trip to the mall? As long as the Great Firewall doesn't stand in the way, Alexa could be Chinese retailing code-cracker, leaving couples free to enjoy one another's company once more. Of course, this presumes a healthy relationship existed before the madness started, and one that can be sustained after aeveral bouts of rigorous hormone therapy. But I believe in Jeff Bezos. He's already reaching into our Id. What's to stop us from twisting it to force us to get along with each other?
Turn Your Mind Over
Global Warming - Finally, a positive aspect of this menace. As the temperature wams, hot flashes will seem routine, salvaging the pod market for its original purpose. The guys can return to their dark, stupid cloisters while the ladies can roam free and consume to their hearts content. Who knows, things get as bad as their predicting maybe the men will never emerge. As long as they are restored periodically with McDonalds and new video games, they have no need to see the light of day again.
The Mesmorizing Dot
Hit Me Again
Bezos is aiming for mastery of the global retail Is by channeling our every buying impulse through his magic Dot. The Chinese are just a step behind by taking aim at the brick and mortor segment. The most fierce menace to a chain store or a mall boutique is a husband with a wandering mind, which can be counted upon to occur with precision if the guy is not distracted by some shiny object. The black Dot won't do.
Men, when bored, are complacent. Our toleration for imposition dissolves in direct proportion to the amount of time spent wandering the vast halls of commerce. First the sight of strange faces begins to bore us, then the food, and, finally, we take no notice of even the bright lights and beckoning advertisements. We are left wandering without a synapse firing. Blank-eyed. Empty-headed.
This next riff may seem sexist, but I swear it's true. No kidding, the Chinese have launched a new set of guy-sized chambers designed to awaken us from our slumbers and free our partners to keep the malls alive and the consumer segment churning. These "husband storage pods" (and they really are called that) come fully equipped with comfy chair and video game console, giving the man another target for an empty head. The very shiniest of the shiny.. As the guys sit there entranced, not knowing that their minds are being sucked dry along with their asset base, the brickx and mortors stands tall.
Sadly, those who inhabit the pods have started to come down with an ironic form of menopause marked by severe sensitivity to heat. Physicians in China are in search of a remedy, turning to hormone therapy. The treatment, while effective at easing the hot flashes that leave the men sweating in their chambers, has a regretable side-effect that risks putting the pod-frenzy out of business. After a few months the guys emerge with a craving to consume, wandering the malls blissfully, showing little intersest in diversion. Market forecasters predict that China will be left with a swarm of vacant pods akin to the lifeless runs of Pompeii.
But I have a long-term prediction. When presented with the reality of having to shop with their annoying mates the ladies will flock to the lifeless pods to escape, freeing their other halves to pick up the slack.
My cynical side imagines this process repeating, with the men returning to the pods as their hormones return to their natural balance and the ladies getting an extra dose of hormane therapy to compensate for the side-effects of the pods. This cycle does not converge, leaving the Chinese consumer segment locked in a state of perpetual harmony. A bizarre form of eHarmony.
But it's not healthy. I've given the thought to what could break the cycle and a few ideas occurred to me.