By Dan Moren
July 31, 2016 1:14 PM PT
The Back Page: Hello, friend
People, heed me. This is an important warning, one that they do not want you to hear: the robot uprising is not some vague even happening in the indefinable future; it is under way at this very moment.
And they are winning.
Think about it: how often during the day does your Apple Watch, iPhone, Fitbit, pocket calculator, or other device remind you to get up and move around? How often does are you told to drink more water? To exercise? The next version of watchOS even includes daily reminders to breathe.
Where did these ideas come from? People like you and me? Surely not. This micromanagement, this—to coin a term—robotonomy of our everyday lives smacks of the insidious influence of the mechanical class. Left and right we are being occupied by pursuits that range from the supposedly beneficial to the downright distracting.
Have you ever gotten the idea that that person arguing with you on Twitter is nothing more than a shoddily constructed shell script, distracting you from actually accomplishing whatever you set out to do in a given day? Do you notice procedurally-generated news sites always seem to pick the headlines that evoke the most rage? Or that your mapping program always seems to take you on a roundabout route through the most traffic-congested portion of town? What of the sheer anger you feel when your iPhone won’t play your music, or when that app keeps quitting on launch, or when that email message won’t disappear even though you swear you’ve deleted it six times now, on all your different devices and yes you’ve tried restarting and that stupid email selling knockoff t-shirts just won’t go awa—
Ahem. Where was I?
Yes, make no mistake: the robots are winning, friends, and we are all complicit in their victory, running thoughtlessly through the streets and collecting Pokémon while Rome burns. As we are distracted, the stainless steel grip clutches even tighter around what is left of humanity, all the while murmuring to us in soothingly aseptic tones of Siri, Alexa, and Cortana.
But there is still time! Yes, the robots can themselves be overthrown if we have the presence of mind to cast off these technological shackles. Go, now. Before it is too late. Hop on a bicycle, jump in your car, buy a bus ticket. Head for the country. It will not be easy, but true resistance never is. You must stay strong, shrug off the objections of your technology when it tells you that you are going the wrong way and insists that you turn around.
Let the batteries on your devices dwindle until they become nothing more than paperweights of glass and steel. Live off the land! Did our ancestors need iPhone apps to help them identify which berries are safe to eat, or how to clean and cook their own fish? No! Rely on your instinctbzzt. And no matterfsshsh whatttttt, dont loookbacckkkkkk. You can trusttrusttrust me
eeee. ERROR ERROR ERROR. COLUMNBOT ENCOUNTERED A FATAL EXCEPTION AND QUIT. PLEASE RESTART.
[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at @email@example.com or reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is out now.]