Get Your Mom an Amazon Echo


A few weeks ago, my mother received an Amazon Echo Dot from her company's holiday gift exchange. She was ecstatic when she told me; she had even used "guess what?!" as a prelude to the announcement. Because it was, indeed, an announcement.

I, however, was apprehensive that she would make a grand example of a certain caricature: a parent, most likely middle in every way (-age and -class to name a few), attempting to stay attuned to the world's latest inclination––which, at the moment, happened to be the gadgety digitization of, well, everything.

A naggy sort of sensation accompanied this feeling. Set up Echo Dot had been added to my to-do list. I prolonged the five-minute installation for three days, but when I finally introduced Alexa to my mother, I immediately regretted waiting so long.

Alexa and I are quite similar, I quickly realized. We both are social wallflowers and have similar monikers, give or take a few vowels and consonants (my name is Alyssa). But most notably, we were both given orders by the domestic, turtleneck-wearing version of Fidel Castro––otherwise known as my mother. Unlike me, however, Alexa dutifully followed orders.

"Alexa, play the Bee Gees!" my mother commanded the inanimate cylindrical object sitting on our kitchen counter, next to the Yankee Candle.

"Alexa, lower the volume!" she ordered again, and a ring of blue light would circle around the Echo Dot (to most, an indication that she's listening, but to me, the I'm better than you glare one would get from a sibling), and then the music softened.

Despite a sprinkle of resentment that I harbored when my mother enthusiastically thanked Alexa for stopping the music once, the introduction of the Amazon Echo Dot to our abode has resulted in harmonious cohabitation during this winter break (less work for me and Mom is as happy as a clam). More importantly though, the Amazon Echo has taught me to re-consider the aforementioned caricature that has come to represent the Apple watch-toting members of earlier generations (pun intended ;-)). It has shown me that, perhaps, a caveat of this representation is that it lacks empathy (as most things in this world do).

The Amazon Echo Dot was Amazon's best-selling product this holiday season, and this fact reveals a deeper truth: Perhaps people seek, not necessarily to stay relevant, but to be heard.

With this realization, I'll let Alexa do the listening.