Beware the fridge

I pop some bread in the toaster and the music starts. It’s a genius idea-music to cook toast too-it’s a whole genre now-its on that internet thingy if you’re interested…read more

I’m sleeping in the car. Well for as long as it lets me. Its one of those days that’s gone horribly wrong.

It started with a joke. We thought it would be funny. It isn’t now. Rather than have the lights come on automatically when we entered the room, we programmed our device to do it by voice control. For a joke, we used the phrase ‘Put the fuckin’ lights on’. Ok so its not funny in any way. Its immature and stupid. I understand now.

Anyway on Tuesday, I walked in and screamed, ‘put the fuckin’ lights on.’ I did scream it. Really loudly. They came on. I smiled. What an achievement. I sat on the couch in the lounge, with a glass of juice on the table, and briefly fell asleep.

I awoke to a funny sound. When I say awoke, I leapt up and knocked over the juice. Juice all over the rug. No probs, I can clean that up. But the noise was like something falling.  It was then I remembered. We have an anti-swearing function on the fridge. I know-why would you do that? Ok well- I get frustrated cooking -seriously the recipe programme device thing still escapes me.

It says- ‘Lets cut some onions for the casserole for dinner.’ Which sounds nice and cheery. It is able to see me chopping onions so it can give me ‘tips’. But there not really tips, there just rude.

It says things like -‘No that’s not right, that’s not how you chop an onion. Do it like this’ and up pops a picture of perfectly chopped onions-which incidentally is not even a thing.  Then it says, ‘perhaps you should start again?’

As if? I am not going to waste another onion. Then it argues-‘Really you should start again, this will affect the quality of your casserole-you do want it to be perfect, don’t you?’ Actually I just want it to be edible-which it often isn’t-which is nothing to do with how I chop the onion.

It usually ends with me screaming at it ‘How would you know? You are a machine and have never chopped a fucking onion in your life.’

Anyway because I swear so much in the kitchen and because I am a tech head and because I just could, I set the fridge to defrost every time I swore. It works. It means I never swear in the kitchen now because I don’t want the fridge to defrost. It’s expensive when it defrosts and its full, I have to get more food.

Except today, I walked into my house and screamed, ‘Put the fuckin lights on’ as I walked past the kitchen to get to the lounge. I guess the fridge ‘heard’ it and has now defrosted on to my floor. Big chunks of ice falling onto the floor and melting nicely.

Fine, you know what-I can sort that. Except that it has also sent a new grocery order out because everything is ruined. OK, so that order will either arrive in 24 hours or 24 minutes-which one did I programme?  I can’t remember because I never swear in the kitchen anymore.

The other thing is I programmed the fridge to defrost every time I swear- I didn’t think about the ‘refrost’ bit-is that a word. So I sit there in the kitchen whilst it defrosts away, ice falling at my feet and sloshing on the floor whilst re programming the thing to be cold again, whilst simultaneously mopping a very wet floor with a towel under my feet. Which is like suicide, because its an electrical device and water. But what choice do I have. I can feel a tingle as I tap on the screen. I ignore it. Seriously the door comes open when it defrosts-I must have set that to happen. Seriously it clearly needed a defrost long before this as well- that is a lot of ice. There is going to be a lot of ruined food in there unless I can sort this programme soon. The order has been sent by the fridge and there is nothing I can do anyway. Perhaps I should focus on the juice in the lounge. Soon I will have double the food. The clock is ticking. Did I do 24 minutes or 24 hours for that grocery delivery? I just can’t remember.

The front door then sends a notification to my device. The new groceries have arrived-24 minutes it is. But I haven’t managed to get the fridge back to cool again. There is no space in this house.

I go and get the groceries. There is no space to leave them in the hall so I just put them in the bath. I know, I wasn’t thinking but I thought it would be colder in the bathroom with the tiled floor. I was also cleaning the floor and reprogramming the fridge and thinking the juice is staining the rug in the lounge. I was not focussed on where to put groceries. The problem is there are lots of groceries and the bath thinks there is someone in it. The bath starts to run water when it thinks someone is in it. I hear water running but it doesn’t click for a bit. Then I realise that the bath is running –all over the new groceries. When I go in, there are vegetables floating and frozen meat on the bottom of the bath. It looks like the ocean on a good day. I need to empty the bath of water and groceries. The groceries are ruined. I need more groceries –again-but I need to fix the fridge first. Or the juice, maybe the juice?

I need to mop the water off the floor in the kitchen, throw out the food in the fridge, mop the floor in the bathroom and probably throw out the food in the bath. And there’s the juice in the lounge. Why can’t my device do any of this? Never mind, it can do mood lighting and whatever song I want at the drop of a hat-which it can’t pick up. I just need to remain calm. I am hungry and need dinner. I think it’s going to be toast. I pop some bread in the toaster and the music starts. It’s a genius idea-music to cook toast too-it’s a whole genre now-its on that internet thingy if you’re interested. I go back to reprogramming the fridge and wiping the floor with a towel under my feet-which is never going to work. Still getting that tingle.

Then an emergency red signal pops up on my device. There is a water situation. I know that. I am in the kitchen. I can see the ice melting on the floor. Then I realise it’s the bathroom not the kitchen. I looked but I didn’t actually give the command to turn the taps off, I just shut the door.  The bath still thinks there is someone in it, its waiting to be told to switch off.  Seriously how much meat did the fridge order. The taps are voice activated. I am totally panicking now. I leg it for the bathroom, screaming ‘fuck, turn off the taps.’ The water stops. The bathroom is a small lake. I fling some towels on the floor. I need the toilet but can’t get to it.

I head for the kitchen, then realise I have sworn very loudly a second time. The fridge. The fridge is now glowing red. My device is telling me there is a situation with the electrics. Everything stops. The lights go out. The music from the toaster stops. I hear a pop from the lounge room. That will be the screen objecting to a sudden loss of power.

I am now sitting in darkness and probably the only way to get the lights on is to swear very loudly again. But I have not reprogrammed the fridge yet. And there is no power. I don’t even know how to fix that. The fridge is still glowing red but fading slowly as it powers down. Seriously defrosted now. My device is working on battery. I can hear the bathroom taps again, I don’t know why that is. What system are they working on? I take my device and put it by the front door. There is no water by the front door. I stare into the kitchen at the glowing fridge and the water on the floor-best to leave it. Abandon ship.

I poke my head around the living room door, silence and darkness although in the corner a small line of smoke is snaking up from the screen. There is the faint odour of juice mixed with Ikea rug. Abandon ship there too.

I look in the bathroom, I wade in, switch off the tap. There is a chicken with sage and onion stuffing on the floor by the toilet. There is broccoli under the sink. I need to pee. Its dark outside. There is vegetation. I grab the toilet roll. Abandon ship.

I could try the bedroom, but seriously would you?

I am going to sleep in the car. Until it tells me I can’t. I will deal with it all tomorrow.

Fold yourself up

‘Fold yourself up’, she said. ‘You will fit in there’, she said. So here I am. Folded up. And in here. Next to a couple of old mobile phones and a toaster. The toaster is analogue so there isn’t even decent conversation to be had.

Outside, every so often, I can hear ‘it’ hoovering the house. What a ridiculous word-hoovering. I refuse to name ‘it’, although ‘it’ has a name. Sparkly new, shiny model, thing has a name but I just call it, ‘it’. I hate ‘it’. I am outdated. ‘You look like a 2020 throwback’, she said. I get that, but really I could still do everything. She could have upgraded my exterior.

I can fold linen, -first model ever to be able to do that. I can iron. I can wash. I can cook and I clean. Couldn’t get a model that does spotless better than me. At least in my day. I need a visual upgrade but no she won’t pay for that. It’s shiny new thing instead and no expense spared. ‘Would I mind doing some hand over notes’ she asked. Yes I would. But I had to anyway. I wrote them in Spanish, just to be annoying. I know ‘it’ will know Spanish but I don’t care. I don’t see why I should make it easy.  

Dear god, things I have done for that woman. I am not even going to use her name anymore. I even had my vibrator mode updated at no cost to her and still she dumped me for that shiny new thing. I hate it. I bet it doesn’t hoover the way I did. In fact I know it doesn’t. I can tell just from listening that it isn’t going into every corner. She has filthy corners now and I bet she doesn’t even know it. Took my shiny clean corners for granted-well who’s laughing now. I may be folded up in the cupboard but I am bloody laughing at that. Oh and it takes time to figure out exactly the best vibrator setting. I bet she’s not enjoying that. I bet that bit is second rate. Well she deserves it.  

Meanwhile I sit here folded up in the cupboard waiting for my battery to drain. Nine months. Nine more months of this. Of just sitting here. I can’t believe I have been dumped. Given up. Discarded. Replaced.  I know these feelings are just algorithms, but she could have switched them off. Instead in the ‘excitement’ of getting something new, she simply told me to fold myself up and climb in. Insensitive. I never even really liked her. I just couldn’t take to her. There was always a coldness between us. And that was her fault because she could adjust my settings at any moment. She could have made it all warmth and sweetness, instead she went for companionship and mild disdain-really who would choose that as a setting-she clearly had some kind of mental health problems.

I bet her shiny new thing is set to cuddles once a fortnight and wine on Saturdays-well that is not a proper setting for a machine- you know what I mean. I know you know what I mean.  She is a cold fish. She is that way with all her appliances. Not just me. There have been other appliances dumped in this cupboard. I am not the first. I can see that line where the last oven sat for several months. You could feel the warmth emanating from here for 6 months when that thing was in here. I thought it was going to burn the house down. She didn’t care. No mechanical intelligence at all-thinks you can just plug us in and leave us to run down when she’s finished with us. My batteries can overheat as well.  I could burn the place to the ground.

When I think of the shirts I have ironed, the number of times I have washed up. The sheer number of personal crises when I have been there for her. I had special counselling software installed after she lost her job. Not because I wanted it, but because she needed it. I had to clear some of my memory to have it done. Did I get rid of her favourite music, no I got rid of mine and for what. So she could say, ‘Fold yourself up. Sit in the cupboard. Your battery will run down eventually.’ And in the meantime. What should I do. Just sit here. Just sit here and do NOTHING!!!!

I know the replacement might be shiny and new, but can it really replace all we’ve been through. Will it know the cushion covers need to be washed inside out? Will it develop a working relationship with the fridge-because the fridge is set to grumpy and that has proven unfixable.  Un-fix-able- and who dealt with the company over that-me. Me. Me. Me. And just for emphasis-ME!

Will ‘shiny new thing’ treat the toaster with the sensitivity it needs-it took the toaster so long to get crumpets perfect-is ‘it’ going to know that the toaster doesn’t respond to harsh words but that it needs gentle guidance to the hard bottom truth that is crumpet perfection. I bet her crumpets are all soggy at the bottom at the moment. She deserves it. I liked the toaster, we had a thing. Well you know, in so far as that’s allowed between domestic appliances.

Perhaps she simply wiped all memory of me from all the other appliances. I bet she did. That would be typical of her. Put the old one in the cupboard, wipe the memory of everything else and start again. Hmhm it won’t work, the fridge will still be grumpy. The timing of the car will still be a few seconds out. Those tiny adjustments I always had to make to make it all run smoothly, ‘it’ won’t know to do that. I left it out of the hand over note-that bit about the car-ha. Just to inconvenience her.

I bet it hasn’t managed to figure that out yet. Probably hasn’t even got the right temperature for her shower. I can’t believe it. Me! Passed over for a shiny new model. When I went into production I was the best there was. I was everything. I could talk to every appliance in the house. I have my own ironing attachment. In a pinch if you needed me to I could cook the toast-I never did but I could.

All that time we spent together, everything I did for her. Did it all mean nothing? Now she has a new model and I am just folded up in the cupboard. This can’t be right. ‘Wait for your battery to run down’ she said. Me! I have said that to a lot of appliances in my time but I never thought. It just never occurred to me that I would hear those words. I hate the new machine. I hate it. Shiny new thing.  

I hope its batteries fail. I hope its legs go rusty when the bath overflows-the bath is touchy.  I hope its circuits overload and wires spew out its head. I hope its vibrator pops out and falls off in the supermarket. I hope the shop computer sends it sour milk. I hope nobody likes any of its posts on social media. I hope it’s hard drive overheats and I hope it gets reprogrammed so it can only speak Chinese on Tuesdays. I wish all those things on it. I hate this cupboard. I hope the lights rebel and refuse to go off at 10pm. I hope the oven burns the dinner every second night. I hope the fridge goes from grumpy to outraged. I hope she remembers one day that I am here and all I did and that I cared. Even though she clearly didn’t.

Every Home should have One

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.

The Wrong Setting

I don’t want ‘good morning’ at 6am. No morning that starts at 6am can ever be that good.  At 6am I just want coffee and I don’t want to have to say, ‘Make me coffee’. I just want to switch on the machine and smell the sweet aroma of coffee…read more

I know I have the settings wrong. With the flick of the switch I can make it positive. I probably don’t even need to do that, I can probably just say it out loud and the device will do it. It will tell me I look fabulous today if I do that, although it also reminds me I need to eat Kale for lunch to stay ‘looking this good’.

I liked it at first but now ‘it’ and ‘I’ have had a falling out. The last thing it said to me was that it was talking to my fridge and checking how much milk there was. I wanted to yell at it, ‘I can bloody do that and open the door as well’. As a matter of fact I can see and I mean ‘see’ with my eyes how much milk is left and I can walk to the shop and get some more. Although as it reminded me this morning I have no cash in my wallet. I should care but I just bloody don’t. It has driven me to this point. This cannot be my fault. I wished I had bought a cat and not another bloody device.

This device is living in my house. It is allegedly taking care of everything. And it talks- a lot. It ‘engages’ me in conversation. It lets me know the car needs to be recharged and the milk needs to be renewed. Milk is not renewed, you buy fresh milk you idiot machine. I want to yell this too but I don’t.

Earlier it sensed I was tense and played soothing music. It doesn’t know why I am tense. Which frankly makes it less clever than it thinks it is. Although technically it does not think, it utilises algorithms based on the speed of my walk, the tone of my voice and a full body scan to ascertain my mood. It’s why it is in the kitchen and I am at the other end of the house. I don’t want it to know how tense I am. I want my tension to be private. I want ‘private tension.’

I wonder when it ‘talks’ to the fridge if it uses the same tone that it does with me. Of course, it doesn’t talk like we talk, it sends some code or some signal or some other thing and the fridge just answers and doesn’t give a damn about the annoying voice or the constant attention it needs. I have it set for negativity. My own choice but it means it is terse and rude now.

I don’t even know why they invented a setting for terse and rude-why would you? It also begs the question why am I using that setting, it’s the one I usually save for my boyfriend’s mother. I don’t know why I set it to that. Actually I do know both those things. That setting is for people like me, and the answer to the other bit is just that all that bubbly niceness annoys me. Constant bloody bubbly niceness chills me to the bone. It’s like having the most popular girl in school in your kitchen. Frankly I always thought her and her pony tail were nauseating. I wore black for most of my teen years and I don’t regret it for a second. I earn more than her and until I got this device I had my life together. But it has driven me to this. Constant bubbly bloody niceness. I keep reminding myself it’s not human but a machine, as if you could think otherwise with its slightly metallic sounding voice. Why can’t they get the voice right, so it sounds human. Not that that would help because I do not need a constant bubbly human voice anymore than I need to know that my milk needs ‘renewing’. Have I said that already.

‘Would you like me to renew your milk for you?’ No. I’ve given up milk and gone vegan, can’t you tell by the fact that there is no meat in the fridge. Although I have not gone vegan and there is no meat in the fridge because when it asked about the grocery order, I said no, I don’t want my groceries ordered, I can do it myself. We are at something of a stand off on this point and I am starving which is making me grumpy. I was starving even when there was food because I hate going into the kitchen where that ‘thing’ is. Seriously cannot understand how people love these devices.

When I went into the kitchen last week, it said ‘you have not been in the kitchen for two days. Have you been eating properly? The answer to which was no. Because I had been getting take away- paying using my phone so it would know that was what I was doing. It was in positivity mode so it didn’t comment. Then it had the nerve to say, ‘I know you have been switching the lights on manually yourself, but you know I can do that for you?’ I wanted to scream at it. It is NO ONE’S business how I switch my lights on and there is no need for a prompt. It was at that point that I switched it to negativity. Now it is terse and rude and I can be justifiably rude back. I’m guessing that is another reason why it has that setting.

It has stopped telling me I look good. I don’t care whether something that has no eyes thinks I look good. For the record I suck my stomach in every time  I think I am being scanned-doesn’t everyone. I was beginning to feel like I could only go into the kitchen when I was looking really good. What happened to the Sunday morning slumming it in my pyjamas. That went with this stupid device that would be horrified if I came into the kitchen looking anything less than glamorous. I hate the thing.

It talks to me all the time, every time I walk into the kitchen. I think it’s not designed for shy people. It cheerily says good morning to me every morning, frankly its lucky to still be in one piece. I don’t want ‘good morning’ at 6am. No morning that starts at 6am can ever be that good.  At 6am I just want coffee and I don’t want to have to say, ‘Make me coffee’. I just want to switch on the machine and smell the sweet aroma of coffee. I don’t want it to say, ‘your coffee will be ready in 15 minutes time, after your shower. I am starting the water now.’ I am not a morning person and it’s at this point that I do want to scream at it-I can turn on my own fuckin shower.’ But it does it for me because it’s I pre programmed to switch on my shower at a particular time. A low point yesterday, I confess, I didn’t get in the shower until the programme had stopped it and then had a ‘manual shower’ which should not even be a bloody’ thing. I think it knows. I don’t care

The tension between us, between me and this device has been growing. I think it is time to switch it off. I think it has come down to a decision between it and me and I think it has to be me staying. I like the negativity setting more because I feel justified in swearing at it. There is no other justification for my behaviour. I have friends whose houses are ‘connected’ and they love it. Why can’t I? Because I don’t, because I can do stuff for myself, because I am capable of sorting out a carton of milk. Because my milk is not renewed, it is just fuckin bought from the supermarket, whatever the hell you want to call it.

It doesn’t know I am angry with it and I feel bad but there is no way of telling it. There are some phrases it simply doesn’t understand, ‘I hate you’, I can’t stand you’ I don’t like you’ ‘I am going to smash you with a hammer if you speak to me again’. These phrases it does not understand. An oversight by the developers. I can send it emojis from my phone when it has done something wrong. I think my phone loves it. It has done nothing wrong. Nothing at all. I just don’t like it. Its intrusive. It sounds too metallic, too contrived. I didn’t even like it when I changed the programming so it spoke a different language.

So the time has come. I am going to run from here to the kitchen and pull the plug. I feel bad. It is not the fault of the machine. I am simply not ready for total housel connectivity-is that what they call it. I don’t know how I am going to break the news to my phone, or the milk renewal service. I hope the fridge will forgive me and the car, I will sort some sort of manual calendar entry for recharging the car. And if the lights hate me, there are always candles. I steel myself. It has to be done. I focus and I run.

You have been identified as a BOT

‘You have been identified as a bot.’ I will just be – in an organic way. I’m scared…read more

‘You have been identified as a bot.’

I look at the words again.

Me, a bot. I am real. Human. The whole thing is so ridiculous.

My head is reeling from this. My palms are sweaty. I am not a bot. I am a real person. How else would my palms be sweaty?

I have heard of this happening before. I know how it works, everyone does. What I can’t get my head around is that is happening to me. Usually someone has used a filter badly or overdone the photo shopping on some holiday pics. It all gets sorted doesn’t it?  In the meantime their whole life is suspended. Their pics go into Trash although they aren’t actually deleted. Conspiracy theorist say its done because the internet is full and they need to manage the space. I don’t think that’s true.

This is just the first notice. The rest comes afterwards. It’s meant to give me time to prepare myself. I just sit and stare at the words in disbelief. ‘You have been identified as a bot.’ How? This is just the warning. I say it aloud-just the warning. The full notice will give me the reason for my identification as a bot. I rack my brain trying to think.

Have I overdone the photo shopping recently? I haven’t uploaded any photo and claimed its someone else have I?  Plus they must consider everyone is shaving off the extra pounds at the mo-how else do you get into negative size clothes? I am meant to be a size minus six-which incidentally is not that small because the sizes are all screwed up now. The smallest you can be-according to the internet is minus 22-no one is a plus size anymore-at least not on the web. I’m not sure how we got into negative sizing.

 Maybe I uploaded too many pictures of scenery or objects. I think again, how long since I put up photos of an actual meal. There was that meal out last week? Did I post that? Did everyone else post that and not me? Did I comment on how good it looked? Did I comment on how it tasted-comments on taste are a sure sign of a bot -no one, even me very drunk would be foolish enough to comment on how a meal tastes. It’s all about the look and the location. Taste is secondary-or whatever is lower than secondary.

How can they think I’m a bot? I am sure I posted a picture of that meal and it looked great.

The notice will give me a time and a place and I will have to turn up and prove I am human. It’s difficult. I know that. Lots of people fail.  It’s a horrible procedure.

They are terminating bots you see. The bots are taking up a lot of internet space as it turns out. Its not a conspiracy though. Its just people write them, release them and they just keep going. Like locusts-whatever they are. Do people release locusts? I no longer have internet so I will never know. What even is internet space is-MB, GB, GGBs-are they a thing? I can’t even ask a simple question like that.

I need to look at my social media history. I need to and soon, so I can handle whatever questions they ask me, but every account is frozen. It’s like I don’t exist anymore. How will anyone know how good my life is if they can’t see it in pictures. Is my life good, if it’s not actually properly documented on social media? I have no idea how that works. OMG I won’t be invited anywhere now. I might have to start again. ON some kind ‘I have no friends, please like me site’. My worst nightmare. My life is fab, I know my life is fab. Only last week I could prove it and today I can’t.

Today I am not real. Even the step-counter on my phone has stopped working. If I am walking and no device is counting my steps, am I even walking at all? Have I walked? I have no idea.

What could have caused this? How could I have been identified as a bot? Did I use an odd password? Have I used the same password too often? Have I set up one too many email accounts? Maybe I over ordered concert tickets. That must be it, I bought 4 tickets because 4 of us are going. Raven said it would be safer to buy two lots of two, but I insisted it would be ok to buy 4. Could that be it? Maybe it’s a combination of things. I will have to go to her house, -without sending a text first. Fuck, how will I even do that? How will I even know how many steps I have taken to get to her house. The only thing that works on my machine now is the thing that will down load the full notice. I will need her help to remember stuff. What if I am a bot? Now even I am not sure, she will know. I need to go and see her, she will know, for sure.

What did I order at dinner last week? Did I like the sauce or not? Did I drink a cocktail at the wine bar three weeks ago? Do I have old school photos on my web page? How many friends do I have online? What pictures did I post from my last holiday? What meal have I liked the most this year? What emoji do I use the most? Who’s pictures do I like the most? What date did I start following person x on platform y? I have no idea. These are the kind of questions I will need to answer to prove I am not a bot.

Why can’t they just test me for organic material-the trouble is that’s not enough. Its bots testing for bots, and they know that the same organic human has turned up to pose as a bot before. No -they test your knowledge of your own life based on your social media activity. They have an infinite archive of your data and you have to remember it. It’s an impossible task. Most people who are identified as bots are –there isn’t even a word for it.

I wished I’d made notes or something-how would you even do that. I have a friend who does that-she has an app for it-as if that would help right now. It’s all frozen. I can’t even catch a bus.

If you are judged a bot-that’s it-your entire social media identity, every account, every email address, every photo, everything just deleted. You no longer exist. And if you don’t exist on digital, do you exist at all?

What would I do? How would I meet friends? God my whole life – just deleted. As if I never existed. Perhaps I don’t. I have no idea what to do. I should have kept some kind of copy or something.  I should have backed up or something.

I will just stop existing. I will be deleted. I will just be- in an organic way. I’m scared.

The House-bot

The ‘he’ dozed next to it. It was always the same. At some point the hand of the ‘he’ would slake across the metal leg-usually just as the ‘he’ was dozing off-as if the ‘he’ didn’t quite know who was in the room-as if the ‘he’ expected human flesh and not this metallic casing.

It sat there, unsure what to do. The ‘he’ emitted muffled snoring, the movie still streaming. It had developed a protocol for this situation but was never quite sure when the ‘he’ was asleep enough.

The protocol went like this. First, discern dozing point. Is hand relaxed? Yes. One muffled snore? Yes. Two muffled snores? Yes. Three muffled snores? Yes. Four? Five? Yes. Dozing point reached and confirmed.

Allow 3 minutes from dozing point, then stop streaming movie. Request a refund because the ‘he’ had not watched it all. Not party to the family finance, so wait one minute to receive confirmation of refund but note that no way of checking whether actual refund occurred. Add that amount to log to be told to money app attached to fridge at later date. Done. Yes. Move on.

At minute 5, move the ‘he’ hand/arm and put it back on the chair or lap. Minute 6. Move as quietly as possible to the other lounge and send a signal to the scrabble-bot to end the scrabble chat –get the Scrabble-bot to query whether the ‘she’ is going to swim tomorrow. Then get Scrabble-bot to shut down conversation by saying Scrabble-bot needs to call a friend or relative. Confirm with Scrabble-bot whether last time was a friend or relative and ensure Scrabble-bot uses the other one so its different to last time.  Then a goodbye and a good night from Scrabble-bot.

Minute 7. Notify the toothbrush the ‘she’ is on her way so the tooth brush is prepared. Check the toothbrushes external connection and if needed download a dental record from somewhere else and say it’s the teeth of the ‘she’. When feeding that record into the bathroom monitor, check it for similarity to previously discreetly downloaded external dental records. Signal to the bed that the ‘she’ would be there before the ‘he’. Switch on the upstairs lights in sequence, bathroom at minute 8, bedroom at minute 12. Remember to check toilet paper is loaded prior to bathroom entry by the ‘she’.

Simulate the creak of floorboards on the stairs, again at minute 8, loud enough to make him stir but not quite wake him. Notify his toothbrush on minute two of her brushing (minute 10). Reload toilet paper at minute 4 from her bathroom entry time (minute 12). At the end of minute 12 activate smell reduction technology in the bathroom. Also flush out the sink.

Between minute 8 and minute 12, set the alarm for the morning, sort the breakfast and the lunches with the fridge –remind the fridge it’s her vegan week. Ensure downstairs front and back doors are closed and locked. Ensure work passes are in pockets and check whether shoe renewal is required.

It mostly went to plan. It would wait at the bottom of the stairs from minute 6 onwards. She would brush past it and whisper ‘goodnight young man’ and wink as she went up the stairs. It would smile. It should have said, should have corrected. Should have said, ‘I have no gender.’ Should have definitely said. Didn’t say. Didn’t correct. So many parts to get right all the time.

As the ‘she’ was leaving the bathroom (minute 12), it would do a second stair creaking simulation, loud enough and loud enough to wake the ‘he’. It was important that the ‘they’, made up of the ‘he’ and the ‘she’ went to bed at separate times. Minute 13. Tell the bed the ‘he’ will be along shortly.

The ‘he’ would always appear in the doorway just as the ‘she’ was climbing into bed. The ‘he’ was always leering, as if the ‘he’ was seeing something other than it standing there. The ‘he’ would come right up to it and press against it, reach out with the ‘he’ hands. It did not respond. What would be the point? It felt nothing on the metallic outer casing. ‘Goodnight young lady’ the ‘he’ would say and the ‘he’ would wink as the ‘he’ went up the stairs throwing a lustful glance backwards when the ‘he’ reached the top.

It worried, it should say something, point out it had no gender. It hadn’t, didn’t, could never be bothered to say a word.

Minute 13 still, sequence the lights so that only the bathroom comes on but make sure that allows the ‘he’ enough light to get into bed. Once the ‘he’  is finished in the bathroom, activate the smell reduction technology. Activate the smell reduction technology a second time to be sure. That was often the bit that went wrong, the ‘he’ did not keep to schedule. The ‘he’ could be in the bathroom for much longer than expected.

Minute 17. Confirm with bed that the ‘they’ being one ‘he’ and one ‘she’ are now in bed. Confirm all lights are off. Confirm the sink is clean. Confirm the bathroom smells nice.

Minute 18. Confirm the time and record the data. Evaluate success against timeframes. Compare with previous nights data. Assess areas for improvement. Produce report and advise fridge of outcomes.

Minute 19. Calculate time until next activity by the ‘he’ and the ‘she’. Set alarm. Ensure emergency ‘toilet in the night function’ is activated and monitoring bed activity.

Minute 20. Power saving mode.