Mitch Albom: A Siri-ous Disconnect

Mitch Albom says we're getting so cozy with our smartphones, we're forgetting to connect with each other.

By Mitch Albom from The Detroit Free Press

Mitch Albom: A Siri-ous DisconnectIllustration by Victor Jushasz
Conversations with a car should be one way only. And they should be limited to “Oh, come on, come on!” (when it won’t start) and “You gotta be kidding me!” (for every other problem).

Asking a car to find the nearest Belgian restaurant is not really what Henry Ford had in mind.

But what really bothers me about this Siri frenzy is that the very devices that are keeping us from communicating with each other now suggest we get verbally cozy with them.

But using voice-recognition software in order to bounce through a server to a series of digital modeled answers is not the same as whispering in a lover’s ear.

These iPhone ads with Deschanel, Jackson, and Malkovich suggest being alone with your device is sort of comfy, one-on-one time.

It isn’t. We’ve become so desensitized to one another that communication— even eye contact—is becoming a lost art. What scares me most about this Siri business isn’t that they have technology that can mimic human conversation, but that humans might actually prefer it over the real thing.

What I’d rather hear in one of those spots is this:

“Siri, how many ounces in a cup?”

“Can’t you ask your mother?”

“All right, text mother.”

“She’d rather hear your voice.”

“I really don’t want to talk to…”

“Too late, here she is.”

“Son, is that you?”

“Uh, hi, Mom. I was just thinking of you…”

Let me know when they invent a dialogue string like that. Until then, I’ll limit my conversation partners to those who have lips and tongues. Even if they can’t find organic mushrooms.

Mitch Albom is the author of Tuesdays with Morrie. His new book is The Time Keeper (Hyperion).

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  • Your Comments

    • Guest

      ah, in my limited encounters with Mr. Albom he couldn’t be bothered to have eye contact….and twice it was when I was purchasing his books!  He couldn’t have been more rude to my son or my elderly mother.  I think a phone has exactly the kind of “personal interaction” that Mr. Albom has had each time I’ve met him, cold and aloof.  I was as if other people were an interruption in his life.  Amazing that a person who can write books that are so warm and touching can be so dismissive to other people.  I’ve seen Mr. Albom in social situations also so the excuse of autograph exhaustion couldn’t possibly be a valid response.  Maybe Mr. Albom could work on himself before he begins to give us all a lesson in personal relationships.  Funny he thinks that the celebrities aren’t credible because he puts on quite the show when he is on TV with celebrities like Oprah.