Why aren’t I allowing it to ‘facilitate my meal production’? -It’s crumpets and coffee!!! Do I need a doctor? Would some vitamin pills help? Would I like a dietary change, a cereal perhaps to ‘up’ my fibre intake…read more
It’s 5.58am. I am awake before the alarm. The alarm knows this. Well the device that sets the alarm knows this. It helpfully tells me, ‘you can sleep for two more minutes.’ I swing my legs over the bed. There is no point in fighting against it really. I should lie down and shut my eyes and pretend to sleep. But it will know I am not sleeping. So why doesn’t it know that sleeping for two minutes is an impossibility? It’s one of those tiny glitches the programmers missed because –because they are all the same. They probably wake half an hour before the alarm, slam a vegan juice and do 15 minutes of yoga. I don’t do that.
The device is in every room now. My whole life programmed in. My very own ‘routine’. I admit I have a very basic model. It’s all I could afford. It has a lot of ads. I admit it does routine well. The problem is- I don’t. It’s not that I don’t keep to a morning schedule to get out the door on time, it’s just that I like a little flexibility. It doesn’t. The alarm will go off at 6am-only it won’t because it helpfully has figured out I am out of bed. It will tell me exactly how many hours, minutes and seconds sleep I got last night. If I have made it to the bathroom by then, the numbers will flash up on the mirror. I will try not to look but if I don’t say Ok, it will keep telling me until I acknowledge it.
It will add that to all the other sleep data it has on me, which is quite a lot. It will tell me my sleep deficit for the year so far, a number now so high that I can never make it up. It will remind me of the importance of sleep and suggest some ‘helpful’ natural remedy to fix my erratic sleeping – perhaps a short break or that healthy after work gym routine which will help me sleep soooo much better at night. I never had a sleep deficit until I had the device. I now know that I average just 6 hours and 30 minutes per night and that is not enough for my ‘Optimum Functional Capacity’. I am never going to achieve my ‘OFC’ on that. Then they will run some mattress ads because who knows it could be my mattress or it could just be this device and its f*****’ routine.
At 6.02 the shower will start automatically-that’s right I have two whole minutes to get between the bedroom and the shower- which is about 3 metres distance max. Why two minutes-because the device helpfully measured the time it usually takes. And the time it usually takes me to get from the bed into the shower- I average two minutes-what do I do in that time-nothing, at least not anymore. I have no idea what I did do to take all that time. Perhaps I enjoyed the view out the window, or stretched or something else equally as useless. I certainly did not use it for self improvement-I know-time wasted. All I do now is feel pressured to be ready under the shower a good 30 seconds before it starts.
In case you’re wondering, there is never an extra 5 minutes in bed. I can ask it for that but there is the gentle reminder that I will be late for work or worse, it has to recalibrate all the timings. And it generally takes 4 minutes off my coffee drinking time-which is only 7 minutes in total-the average time any person takes to drink a coffee apparently-where did they get that statistic!!! Because that is not me. I cannot drink a coffee in 7 minutes and I don’t believe anyone else can either! Like I said, it’s a basic model.
Anyway at 6:01 I will be standing naked in the shower waiting for it to start. I need to get a sensor for the shower so it knows I am here and not this stupid timing thing. The shower will dispense the exact amount of shampoo twice because that’s what the stupid shampoo company wants. The Stupid Shampoo Company (not it’s real name) wants for me to wash my hair twice-only before when I had a bottle of shampoo and it was just instructions, the ‘twice’ was optional. Now when the shower is dispensing it, I must do it once, and I must do it again and there is no longer a choice.
Then there’s the conditioner-yes the conditioner is dispensed in exactly the right amount for my hair length. Fab, but then it needs to be in for three minutes. Back when I had a bottle, 30 seconds max, I guess I was a ‘token’ conditioner back then. My hair was never properly conditioned and I never noticed. Now I have proper conditioned hair and guess what-it has NOT,-N-O-T improved my life in any way.
Right at the start when I was programming-I use that term loosely because I was just talking at it, the device asked me did I want the water to run for the whole three minutes whilst the conditioner was in my hair. I said yes, because I do. Then there were the water company ads. Was I sure? What a waste? Aren’t I a good citizen? So I changed it to ‘no’ and now I stand there for 3 minutes freezing my butt off with conditioner in my hair and no water. I’m not going to lie to you. It’s not what they promised- that whole-‘lets get connected- a device in every room’. Back then it was all music and fairy lights whenever you wanted. The reality is you freeze your arse off in a shower with no water for three minutes every morning and no amount of soft lighting and mood music can make it any better. I just want to be warm.
Anyway I will hear the crumpets clicking into the toaster just as the water comes back and I have a minute-a whole minute to get rid of the conditioner and wash the rest of me. It’s based on averages again apparently. An extra minute in the shower is a no-no, my goodness those water companies-that is called premium water if you want it. And apparently they can measure that when you start to use it.
The crumpets are preloaded in the toaster by me the night before so all the device has to do is tell the toaster to drop and cook. When I get out of the shower they will be ready along with the coffee. The whole thing is set up the night before with a helpful 9.02pm reminder to put the crumpets in the toaster and a 9.03pm reminder on the coffee. It’s so that as soon as I’ve sat down after one I can be reminded to get up and do the other. It’s because you can’t have two reminders for the same minute-you can see why I swear a lot. Of course sensibly I do them together but that doesn’t stop the reminders and me needing to confirm it is done –verbally, out loud by 9.04- lest I radically decide to get up tomorrow and make my own breakfast. I can’t do that. It knows. It will ask me what is wrong. Why aren’t I allowing it to ‘facilitate my meal production’? -It’s crumpets and coffee!!! Do I need a doctor? Would some vitamin pills help? Would I like a dietary change, a cereal perhaps to ‘up’ my fibre intake. Don’t even ask what else it monitors in the bathroom. Its not your business. It shouldn’t be anyone’s business. I should get a better model-upgrade. This one only does half the stuff it should. There aren’t enough sensors in my house. Some of my stuff is incompatible because it has a different logo. Or no logo, or worse a supermarket logo.
I am out the door at 6.41. The device will have told the car I am on schedule. Actually for all I know the shower might do that. I slide into the back. It glides away but not before asking me if I am willing to share. I am never willing to share. I am not a morning person. No one is. Why does it even ask. Why can’t it learn that- I have said no every time, and yet it still asks. I think that is a government regulation, you can’t shut off the share question.
The car will drive me to the station. There is only one right turn the whole way there. But it is a nightmare. Cars are all about operating systems. Basically I need a car with the same operating system going both ways to allow me to turn out, that way my car can talk to their cars and tell them to stop. It should all be pre arranged but generally it’s a disaster because no one wants their car talking to another car until they are in it. Worst of all, sometimes one car will stop because one street away another car with the right operating system is coming. That person and everyone behind it will sit and wait until the other car gets there. You know how many car makers there are, well that’s how many operating systems there are, imaging having to wait at an intersection until there is a Ford going both ways-it’s like that. Actually it’s worse than that-because its not just operating systems, it’s the version you have, so a Ford Fiesta can’t talk to a Ford Focus or similar.
You can see people getting visibly annoyed as they wait. You can no longer ‘egress’ -yep that is the term they use from a car whilst it is in use, you are locked in-it’s a safety measure, not for you, for everybody else who is sitting waiting for you to turn out of the road. It is stressful. The car will be booking my seat on the train or not- depending on my BMI. If I am a little too fat this morning, it will sense it and I get to stand. Apparently standing on a train is good for your core, not so sure about the feet.
ItThe return journey is much the same. The car will be there to pick me up eventually. The worst of it –have I mentioned it gets worse-is my relaxation time. At 8pm each evening, having sorted out the perfect recipe for the ingredients in the fridge and walked me through how to cook it, it will tell me to sit down and relax for an hour. The thing is- I can’t. I am so tense. I just sit there. I have this hour to relax and I am so tense. I know the reminders are coming at 9pm. I know I will be in bed by 9.15. I know the alarm will go off at 6am. I know the routine tomorrow will not vary one iota from today. I know that when I sit on the sofa at 8pm, it is part of the routine. An hour for me just to relax. I just can’t relax. I can’t do it. Its enforced relaxation, enforced sleep. I cooked what it wanted me to cook. I ate in the time it told me it would take. I relaxed to music that it will suggest but none of it, none of it is mine. None of it is me. If it is me, its just a machine reflecting me back at me. I can’t handle it. I can’t give up ‘me’ to the machine. I can’t sleep but I can’t deviate. Its here all around me. This stupid device! Telling me that I could be better, my life could be better. Self improvement, self fulfilment, busy every second except for this one allotted hour. Only all life is gone from here. There are only algorithms and no space for just an extra minute on that coffee. It is the apocalypse, not the devastating cataclysmic, life ending one but the soft shattering, soul destroying end to choosing how each minute is spent. A decision made once, resonating forever, repeated over and over every day in that stupid device.