HomeAugust 2012Phone Fear

Phone Fear

“Siri,” I ask my phone, “Why do you hate me?”
“If you like,” the casually robotic, universally familiar voice of the iPhone’s voice-recognition app responds, “I can search the Web for ‘Why do you hate me?’”
No, Siri.  I don’t want a Web search.  I want answers.  From you.  About why you hate me.
You mispronounce my name, even though I’ve tried to teach it to you a dozen times.  You never seem to be able to find the song I ask you to play.  And worst of all, you are trying to make me feel as though I’ve turned into my mother.
Nobody understands my mother.  She speaks with a thick Israeli accent and makes up her own idioms and grammar rules as she goes along.  She speaks in circles, often contradicting herself multiple times in the same breath: “Your sister needs to find someone to take care of her so that she can be independent and take care of herself.”  (Is there an app for that?)
Mom is dizzyingly hard to follow, whether you’re listening to her in English or in Hebrew.  And now, according to Apple, so am I.
In the commercials, when a hipster with bedhead tells Siri, “I want a latte,” the dutiful app proffers 15 coffee shops in a two-block radius.  When I test out the same request, all I get is, “I’m sorry May-rav.  I don’t understand.”
You don’t understand?  You don’t understand me?
Apple has come under fire by people (British, Mexican and Scottish people, mostly) for Siri’s inability to decipher accents.  But I don’t speak with a brogue.  I speak with a perfect American accent – not Mid-Western flat, not Southern flourished.  My accent is even and neutral, with all traces of my Valley upbringing shamed out of it.
It makes no sense why Siri wouldn’t understand me just as well as she understands John Malkovich or Sam Jackson.  It makes no sense why she wouldn’t understand me better than everyone else understands my mother.
So I’m left with the only logical conclusion: Siri hates me.  She’s trying to drive me crazy by giving me directions to the wrong pet groomers.  She has never gotten a text message dictation right, even when the entire message was, “OK.”  And on more than one occasion she’s misheard the request “Call my husband” as “Call the mohel.”  There’s no way that’s not a weird robot joke.  Siri has it out for me.
When I mention this to Hubby, he tries to soothe me, promising me that I’m not becoming my mother and saying that perhaps Siri has another motive.
“Siri,” he asked his phone, “are you jealous of my wife?”
“No comment,” she replied, playfully.  The tramp.
To prove my point, I ask Siri, “Are you jealous of me?” to which she answers, “I’m sorry, May-rav, I’m afraid I can’t answer that.”  Because I don’t understand you.  Because you are becoming your mother.  And one day your children will yell in frustration, “You make no sense!”  And you will feel like a deaf-mute trapped in the solitary confinement of poor communication, unable to explain your feelings and fears and needs to an ever-neglectful world.  And you will be alone.
Maybe I made up that last part.  But it was implied.  That much anyone could understand.


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