Yelling At Inanimate Electronic Objects

A new study says that only 11% of consumers own either an Amazon Echo or Dot or Google Home. And they use them, as I do, mostly to play music. Other than the weather, I can't think of a question that Alexa has gotten right yet. But voice commands are growing nevertheless. Here are the percentages of folks who are yelling at inanimate electronic objects:

69%:  Smartphone

21%:  Tablet

20%: Car radio/navigation

18%: Computer

14%: TV set

I have been yelling at electronics for years, long before they had any capability to respond. Take landlines, for example. The only calls they get anymore are from cruise lines, shady financial institutions or guys from India pretending to know that something is wrong with your computer. So when the landline starts lighting up anywhere near dinnertime, I think it's entirely appropriate for me not only to leave it unanswered, but admonish it with a crowd-pleasing "F*** off!" as if somehow that curse might leap the chasm and hurt the feelings of the robocaller.



I just got a new German-engineered car that has so many electronic controls on it, I feel like a 747 pilot on approach, smack in the middle of a Nor'easter. The dealer swears that he can control everything on the car with his voice — but I think I got one of the ones that only understands German, because it hasn't done anything I have asked in the month that I have owned the car. Sort of like when you are arguing with your wife or kids.

I don't start out yelling at the car, but each time it says "I don't recognize that command," or it auto-completes a city in Botswana in the GPS guidance, I tend to raise my voice an octave or two and try again.  After a while it dawns on me that I can just as quickly reach down and change the preset and save a fair amount of aggravation.

I wasn't even aware that you could talk to your TV set. Not that I don't yell at mine all the time, but only when someone on the screen reveals the latest executive order from that crackpot in the White House. And then I don't really expect Lester to answer when I say, "You have GOT to be kidding me?" Similarly, I don't think Joel Berry and Justin Jackson were listening when I yelled, "You gotta make those goddamned foul shots man; this is the championship game!"

Besides, it seems more effortless for me to hit a couple of buttons than to ask the flat screen to change stations or "Never show me a movie starring Jack Black or David Spade."

I have tried repeatedly to talk to my computer — even taking the multiscreen steps to train it to my voice — but whoever Cortana is, he/she just ignores me. After a while it seems silly to tell a machine to "Open Firefox to Porn Tube" when I can do it with a mouse in less than three seconds. Besides, you never know who's listening in the next room when I’m making that request.

I must say, I have pretty good luck with dictating to my smartphone, though somehow it seems just wrong to compose an answer to a text. I am pretty sure my kids stop reading after the first five or so words anyway, so what is the point?

The Google Search app is by far my favorite because it hears me, finds what I want and hardly ever makes a mistake.

Too bad it can't send its cousins to live in my other electronics. But, knowing Google, they are in the works.

2 comments about "Yelling At Inanimate Electronic Objects".
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  1. David Stanton from GfK, April 28, 2017 at 12:12 p.m.

    Just an FYI -- the "new study" is from GfK.

  2. R MARK REASBECK from www.USAonly.US replied, May 1, 2017 at 9:31 p.m.

    Does this include yelling at your Congressman or Senator?

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