The Worst Thing Ever: Automated Assistants

Technology is great, isn’t it? We are of the luckiest people to have ever existed simply by living in this era. Thanks to technology life expectancies are longer than ever, being in contact with loved ones has never been easier and we are almost always within arms’ reach of any entertainment that tickles our fancy? Want to check your credit score while watching foot-fetish porn? Done. Want to find out what pyramid scheme that girl you took a few classes with in college is involved with now without leaving the house? Done. Need to find out how to make a pipebomb or a zucchini casserole? Done.

What I am trying to say here is that I think technology is great and has enriched the human experience in many meaningful ways. Although it is indisputable that ethical, social and physical consequences exist from technology, for the most part, I see technology use as a positive tool for humanity. I’m not some kind of pearl-clutching fear-mongered Boomer who thinks that Instagram tits will be the literal downfall of humanity. Human beings have always been ornery, selfish, horny, feral, depraved and psychopathic, the only difference is it is far more visible now than it has ever been in history due to the very same technology.

The price that we pay for the amenities that we have include the hiccups that developers undergo creating them. One of these hiccups that push me to the brink of psychopathy is such a First Word problem that even a Chainsmokers fan would shake their head at me but it makes me see red regardless – and that hiccup is automated assistants on telephone lines.

Picture this – your car breaks down in the middle of a high traffic area of a city. Your anxiety is through the roof, seemingly hundreds of people are flipping you off every second and you are the focal and sole reason for a massive traffic jam. You need to get the Hell out of there like yesterday. You pull out your phone and call AAA (or CAA if you are a Canuck, like me) to get a hold of a tow truck to pull you out of there. Instead of contacting an operator you are put on the phone of an automated dickhead that speaks and mishears you as if you have all of the time in the world. In order to talk to a person, you have to painstakingly jump through the hoops of reciting your birthdate, account information, and usually a 16 digit number. It takes forever.

But, hey, maybe that’s all worth it if the operator for AAA, Apple, the bank, etc. has all of that information and can get straight to helping you out. That’s a cute thought but of course, they ask you for the same fucking information anyway, so what’s the point? It’s another way that corporations make the average person jump through hoops and a huge drain on the one existence that we call life. Automated assistants are the worst thing ever.

The Worst Thing Ever: LoveBookOnline

As I have been contributing to this little writing project of mine for the past year and a half I have also been thinking about the name, Soapbox Stories. Admittedly I had named this project as such as I thought it had a nice ring to it and never thought much about the implications. Soapbox Stories implies an outcry, a message that must be heard with a hint of self-righteousness. While my poetry has plenty of that, I feel that it would be fun to increase my writing output (and self-righteousness) with an occasional opinion piece.

This is why I am proud to present “The Worst Thing Ever”, in which I will finally get on my soapbox and rant about the things in life that irk me, annoy me, and that I generally see asininity or pointlessness in. Be advised that these are my personal opinions and that I will NOT be covering anything on politics and religion. Facebook is basically all people who have no idea what they’re talking about getting mad about politics and religion, I suggest that you go there if you want to see that.

That being said, it should come as no surprise that the first source of my documented contempt comes from that soulless website of normies and relatives that you are the only kind of lukewarm about. As I was scrolling through the wasteland one day, I stumbled across this ad. Usually, I can shrug off personalized ads well enough but this one insulted my intelligence and basic human dignity with such a vengeance that it has permanently burnt into my psyche. Naturally, I must pass this assault of decency, courtesy of LoveBookOnline, on to you:

Romance is real, ladies.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, imaginary person who I think is actually reading this. You’re thinking, “This doesn’t seem that bad. What’s the big deal?” Let’s begin with the major sticking point in this atrocity, look at the writing on the book to the left. “P.S. Can you please read this book if we ever get it in a fight? That way, you will remember exactly how I feel about you and hopefully, forgive me more quickly :-).” Am I the only person who can see what a sneaky and manipulative move that this is? It’s not even like it’s a sneaky move that takes a lot of effort such siphoning her funds through small increments. That is sleazy, sure, but at least that takes much more effort and intelligence than this shit. This tripe that LoveBookOnline actually sells for real, human money is about as romantic and likely to end in sex as pulling out a Diva Cup. The laziness on both the creator and buyer’s part of this is on par with the loveless, 50-second missionary sex that will ensue while she’s thinking about what flavor of yogurt she’ll be bringing to lunch the next day.

To reiterate, if I get into my fight with my fiancée here are my options:

a)  Try to understand why she is upset and apologize. Then grow as a person and act less selfishly to change the ways that I act that upset her.

b) Go out to get a jug of milk and a pack of cigarettes.

c) Buy a personalized book with a transparent cop-out so I don’t have to do any of the work mentioned in a).

Let’s push aside the stupidity and obvious toxicity of that quote alone for a moment and concentrate on the concept itself, again. When I was six or seven years old my aunt and uncle bought me a personalized book about a boy that had to team up with a bunch of farm animals to find a rooster. While I appreciated the gift, even at that age I could tell that it was cheesy. Could you imagine gifting an adult person that you pay bills together with something on that same level? A person who seriously believes that this is an appropriate gift for someone who’s presumably seen their genitals has to be the kind of person that throws dishes away because they don’t want to clean them. Like who is the target audience?

Look, there’s nothing wrong with treating your significant other with gifts and gestures that are corny. There is nothing wrong with writing them a cheesy poem every now and then, getting them a dumb stuffed animal because you were thinking about them or even doing the chore you know that they hate (for the love of God though, don’t make them an IOU coupon book). If you love your partner, then why pay some asshole to tell your story for you? If you were dead-set on making you partner a little personal book to remind them of why you care for them so much, wouldn’t it be a lot more intimate and special if it was something that you made completely from the heart? It won’t matter if you can draw well or not, as if the cheap drawings would be hard to top, something that you wrote by yourself would be far more meaningful than this shit. This pandering, lazy and phony faux-romantic gesture is both an insult to corny romance writing and to romance itself. At least you can write your own message in a Hallmark card. An evening of watching your boyfriend scratch his balls and sniff them after every time while he plays Call of Duty would be more romantic than this. R. Kelly’s cell is more romantic than this. I have a higher standard for my love life than something that you can cut-and-paste, and I hope that you do, too. This is why this is the Worst Thing Ever.