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My View: Could Siri and Alexa help us mind our manners?

By Nancy Jo Eckerson

I have amassed a storehouse of reservations about digital technology and have often expressed my view on the deterioration of human-to-human sensitivity because of Facebook, iPhones and the rest, but fair play dictates I should also remark on the marvels of the modality, too.

Recently, because of digital advances, I accomplished the impossible. I purchased a birthday gift for my Scottish friend’s daughter and had it delivered right to her door thousands of miles away. All this thanks to my new UK Amazon account.

No big deal, right? That doesn’t sound so amazing, but what is amazing is that by the time I realized it was her birthday, I had only four days to accomplish the feat. If, at that point, I had purchased a gift and sent the package from Western New York to Scotland, I would have missed her sixth birthday by a mile.

Because of advances in technology, I am happy to report that a precious little girl on the other side of the ocean was happily playing with her favorite coloring books on her birthday.

I can feel the planet is shrinking, and now the UK is a few clicks away. Miraculous.

Nancy Jo Eckerson.

And to add to the fun, I’m actually dictating this My View because I have purchased Office 365, and there is a feature on it called Dictate. I’m just sitting here, laid back with my arms behind my head, smiling and talking away, and it’s all going down on my computer screen.

I can see I’m going to have to make a couple of corrections, but I would say most of the mistakes are my own fault because I keep forgetting to say period or question mark or exclamation point. This is so much fun.

I always think and talk faster than I type, so this is a great addition to my work. The only thing I would like my Office 365 to do now is tell me my word count, so I won’t even have to move my eyes all the way down to the bottom of the page to see if I’m anywhere near my goal of 600 words, bringing laziness to a whole new level.

I am blown away by the advances we are making in technology. I love having a cellphone when I am out and about, and I am pleased to be able to take photos without carrying a huge camera with me at all times.

Whoever is working behind the scenes creating all these different digital features, I applaud you. So, although I have a great distaste for how we have, on the whole, buried our faces in our screens and lost contact with our families and the world, I do try to focus on the positives of digital progress.

I have a great idea, though. Maybe the digital gurus can make our phones and virtual assistants require mannerly behavior, i.e. polite requests, with please and thank you, before our desires will be manifested. Wouldn’t that be great?

I bark out orders to Siri all the time now: “Siri send a text.” “Siri call Zoe!” A couple of my friends have Alexa to order around, too. Can you imagine where this might lead?

Heaven forbid, we might soon be habitually barking orders at our kids, our husbands and our friends. Or, since that may not be unheard of already, how about if requiring a proper please and thank you instills a new habit into our daily relationships?

Maybe Siri or Alexa could teach us a more mannerly way of communicating with our kids, spouses and friends.

Nancy Jo Eckerson, of Akron, is getting the hang of new technology.

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