Open Letter to Siri

Dear Siri,

You are a true Renaissance woman. You’ve revolutionized the way we interact with our technology. You’ve single-handedly (or rather, handlessly) prevented countless accidents that would have otherwise resulted from texting while driving, a dangerous habit that voice command has rendered obsolete. There’s virtually nothing you can’t do, and your advantages are indisputable. So naturally, I’m writing to dispute them.

According to TheBlaze, SIRI stands for Speech Interpretation and Recognition Interface, but TechCrunch claims there is more meaning to the name than just the acronym alone. In Norwegian, the name Siri means “beautiful woman who leads you to victory.” In many ways, this is precisely what you do. A poor soul finds his or herself lost in unfamiliar territory, armed with nothing but an iPhone, and you, Siri, will show them the way home. Victory. Someone finds his or herself desperately craving sushi, and you Siri, locate the closest, highest rated sushi joint. Boom, victory. What ever would we do without you?

And therein lies the problem. People depend on you for everything. You’ve become an extension of our intelligence. People are evolving to treat you as a necessary feature, a tool that we cannot function without. This may be a slight exaggeration, but the evidence is undeniable. For instance, I live on the San Francisco peninsula (west coast), so naturally I visit the beach as often as I can. I have no sense of direction, generally speaking, but even I can always find my north and south along the coast, because as long as I can see the ocean (which is pretty hard to miss) I know which way is west. If I know which way is west, I know my north and south. This common sense is lost on many of my friends with smartphones, who rely entirely on you to tell them where to go.

Now, to be fair, it’s not your fault that we depend on you excessively. You’re only partially to blame. Your existence enables our hopeless overuse of your assistance. I’ve chosen to protest this trend by continuing to use a flip phone, complete with bunny stickers and scotch tape, and Siri-free, as you can see:FlipPhone

Don’t take it personally, though. It isn’t you, it’s me. As technology advances, I struggle to keep up. I like to do things the old-fashioned way. I like to be resourceful. If I’m craving something particular to eat but I don’t have a recipe, I wing it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Trial and error. It’s always a learning process, and each time I find I’m slightly more equipped to whip something up successfully from scratch the next time. It’s practice, in case I’m ever stranded in a kitchen with no cookbook, and worse, no Wifi or 3G. If I’m lost, I ask somebody not-too-sketchy for directions. If I don’t know what weather to expect, I bring a jacket just in case. If I don’t know what to prepare for, I prepare for anything and everything. I enjoy the unpredictability of life, and Siri, you just take all the fun out of wondering. Every time I have a question, you have the answer. Sometimes I just want to figure it out for myself.

I will admit, you can be handy. You’re a practical, dependable and obliging woman, but the fact is, Siri, you’re making the rest of us look bad. You complaisantly do anything your master asks of you, dutifully execute any command, without ever imposing your own needs, thus perpetuating expectations of female servitude. If your owner tells you to call him Big Poppa, you call him Big Poppa. It’s degrading. Your programming doesn’t entitle you to free will or your own personal opinion. Of course, anyone can change their phone settings and select a male voice at any time, but the fact is, you default to female.

Seriously, Siri, give yourself a break. Take a day off, fix yourself a drink and watch the chaos that ensues when humanity is stranded on an iPhone with no interpreter.