Dad in the Box

Get Smart

I don’t want to be on a first name basis with my refrigerator.
Oh don’t get me wrong, I am all for cool technology—when it works—but I draw the line at talking to appliances.  I have enough trouble carrying on conversations with humans.  
But in what must be one of the truly great technological oxymorons of our time, the dawn of the smart refrigerator is upon us.  
These new computerized ice boxes have cameras inside and a large LCD display on the front so you can actually see what is inside without opening the door.   Apparently insulated windows are too low tech. 
Over the course of my lifetime I have spent a lot of time peering into open refrigerators, much of it trying to remember what it is I am looking for.  And I can tell you from experience there is nothing that interesting inside. 
Unless, of course, you find a takeout carton filled with slightly aged and solidified General Tso’s Chicken entertaining.
Still, cable your new smart refrigerator to the Internet and now you can check its contents at any time from anywhere in the world.  This is useful, say, if you are on vacation and want to watch your eggs.  Or maybe you want to update the screensaver on your computer at work.

And instead of using antiquated magnets to hang cluttered photographs and grocery lists and notes and emergency telephone numbers, you can display them in high definition right on the gleaming front panel touch screen of the refrigerator.
And that’s not all.
Someone ringing the doorbell?  See who it is on your refrigerator.
Want to communicate with mom?  Skype her from your refer.   
Need to know the distance to Pluto in millimeters?  Google the fridge.
Wanna watch Frozen?  Look no further than the Haagen-Dazs.
Music?  What could be better than fresh Coldplay blasting from the old Sub Zero.
Outside of the fact that I don’t really want to relocate a barcalounger and a sofa to my kitchen, it all sounds pretty exciting.
But to be honest, I am kind of partial to dumb refrigerators.  They keep things cold. They hum at night.  They make ice.  They live forever.  And they still hold one of life’s great zen mysteries: when the door is closed is the light really off? 
And there is something satisfying about jerking the handle to the big box, draping an arm over the open door, and gazing at the contents inside wondering if there is anything good to eat.
I am not sure I want my refrigerator informing me that I am out of baloney but the carrots are still good and are a healthy alternative. 
And I definitely don’t want my refrigerator tracking my location with GPS and texting me to pick up some milk and a dozen eggs whenever I am near a store.   Or maybe posting on Facebook that mold is forming on my overripe strawberries.  
And what if I come to the kitchen for something cold in the middle of the night?  Will I suddenly get virally busted on YouTube standing in my boxers drinking orange juice straight from the container? 
But my real concern is that to access any of these nifty smart features I will have to talk to my refrigerator and call it by name.  Like, Bridget is the beer cold yet? Or Bridget, how do I make ice?  Or Bridgett, how about some fresh coffee?
And Bridgett will say:  Sorry, I don’t do coffee.  You need to talk to Melita for that. 
And I will say: Who’s Melita?
And Bridget will say: Your coffee maker.
And I will say: Melita, brew me some coffee.
And Mel will say: Are you talking to Melita or me?
And I will want to know who Mel is.  And Mel will tell me he is my dishwasher and ask me if I want to dim the lights and watch the rinse cycle on my TV and I will say no I just want a cup of coffee and then somebody named Alexa will pipe in from a speaker somewhere near a houseplant and demand to know who all these appliances are in her house and why wasn’t she notified and Siri will start crying because she thinks I am being unfaithful.
And before I know it I have a bunch of metal boxes in my house who are arguing over who is going to play music and I have to make the damn coffee myself.
Call me antisocial, but you can see why I don’t really want to talk to appliances.
Still, I recognize that technological advances continue to reshape the way I live.  And I must embrace and learn to use all the smart things that will soon control my life, not turn them away.   
But I wish they would come up with something a little more warm and personal.  
Like maybe a smart cat. 
Comments?  Reach me at or call me from your washing machine.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

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