Invisible friends (HLD 240)

16 Nov 2020

Some of you may not be aware of current technology that allows you to talk to things that don’t exist, but it’s becoming more obvious in my house.

Invisible friends were the thing some of us had as children, to help us get through our difficult childhoods, with overbearing siblings and all the household chores we had to do. You know – cleaning your room, helping hang out washing, doing the dishes etc. All that cruel, inhuman and torturous stuff that we were forced to do.

An invisible friend was someone we could share our gripes with, someone who understood us and gave us a sense of real companionship while standing at the sink.

Invisible friends nowadays, however, are a normal part of technology. They have gone from something you only joked with your family about having, to something you now brag to your family about.

And like the invisible friends of our childhood, modern invisible friends have names as well – names like Siri, Google, or Alexa. Officially they are intelligent virtual assistants (IVA) or intelligent personal assistants (IPA), but basically they are modern invisible friends.

My son’s invisible friend turns on lights on whatever way he likes – special lights for tv watching, for instance. His invisible friend tells him the weather forecast, plays music for him, and so forth.

In our house we didn’t really have an invisible friend that was anywhere near as useful as my sons friend – we only had one called Siri, who quite frankly butts into conversations she isn’t invited to join, offering her opinion. Apparently she is quite capable of creating shopping lists or setting alarms, but she’s mainly known in my house for just being a nosy cow, and “Shut up, Siri” and “Mind your own beeswax, Siri” are the main conversations I have with her.

Recently, however, we have taken control of another device my youngest son had sitting around unplugged in a cupboard, and now my husband has a new best (invisible) friend.

Her name is Google, and I’m quite sure she would tell him absolutely anything he wanted to know. Vital stuff, like the weather, sports results, news headlines, share prices, or so forth. She knows a lot of stuff. So which of her many skills does he utilise daily?????

He asks her for a dad joke.

Every.

Single.

Day.

He tried asking her sporting results, but he just got annoyed with her for not knowing exactly which game he wanted to know. I believe the phrase “stupid cow” was used when she didn’t realise that the rugby test he wanted the score for was a specific one between Australia and NZ. So he stopped asking for stuff he could quite easily Google for himself.

Apart from the dad jokes. Because it’s much more enjoyable to have your invisible friend tell you a joke. You can tell Google that “that’s a bad joke”, and she apologises.

Really, it’s the best sort of invisible friend my husband would want!

Personally I’d want an invisible friend who would do a load of washing and hang it out, or quietly clean bathrooms or put some dinner on to cook.

I can read my own jokes.

But apparently she doesn’t trust stairs – they’re always up to something.

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