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My Appliances Are Plotting Against Me

Why do they all fall silent when I enter the room?

By Valerie KittellPublished 2 years ago 4 min read
Image by Wilfried Pohnke from Pixabay

I may be in the minority here, but I have absolutely no desire to talk to my appliances and build relationships and rapport with them. I also don’t really want them talking to and co-coordinating with each other or reporting back stats to ACME base control about our caffeine consumption or what kind of ancestral DNA is being absorbed by a filter in the washing machine.

I’m sure these advanced capabilities are all well and good for some larger purpose that my plebeian mind cannot grasp, but I really just want my home appliances to fulfill their basic traditional functions — like cooking, cleaning, heating, cooling or washing. I don’t need my appliances to be “smart”. I want them to be dumb, non-sensate machines. I want them to have ON and OFF switches. I don’t want them to be reliant on software and motherboards and the internet. I don’t want the repair person to need a degree from MIT. I want him/her to be able to go out to the truck and have the appropriate cog for the job or be able to get it shipped relatively quickly.

I can see the allure of being able to control your thermostat from your phone, but what is the ultimate cost of that convenience? If wireless technology takes over all of the everyday functionality of the appliances we all have and take for granted, at some point that technology will supersede the mechanics and become the dominant force in our relationship to our appliances.

I read a while ago that it is not impossible to imagine a world where we basically subscribe to the software that controls our fridges, thermostats, ovens, etc. and basically give up control and ownership. One day the screen on your fridge may just say “This software version is no longer supported and will be logged off from FridgeCortex in 30 days” and then you will either pay through the nose for a software update or be forced to trot off to Big Box for a new cold container with smart technology that you can subscribe to.

Perhaps you think these concerns are hyperbole, but the evidence of the grand plan increases daily. Consider the case of the remote start key fob and a major car company. I'm not going to mention the company specifically (it's easily googled), because my interest lies in the underlying concept of tying non-internet related functionality of a consumer product into an ancillary but required purchase of a separate internet based suite of services which a buyer may or may not want.

The remote start on the key fob works through physical proximity and radio waves, so no internet is really required. What is required to USE it however is a subscription to the other services after a company provided trial period ends. So, it appears that the company has the ability to disable the device on the remote to non-subscribers - no remote start for you!

Why is this so insidious? Let's go back to the refrigerator example. Your fridge makes ice- no internet needed. But what if one day the appliance company decides that the fridge will only make ice if you subscribe to a bunch of internet services you don't want like: automatic shopping lists , a recipe app that sees what's in your fridge and what you could make with it, a calorie counter, a price index of groceries you buy, a heart monitor based on your grip of the handle, a water purity reading of the ice, etc.etc. etc. Don't want or need that stuff - too bad, if you want ice, you have to subscribe to the service!

So back to my fearless forecast. Does everyone want everything they own and used to be tied to the internet and just meted out to us via software subscriptions? Is there a large enough market to sustain new manufacturers who will make dumb mechanical appliances again that can be fixed over and over for decades simply by maintaining a robust parts inventory, accessible to both independent repair people and the home DIYer?

Big Question - what happens when the internet goes down or a company is hacked? It's not like this doesn't occur.

Does everything in the frigging world have to be tied to the internet, subscriptions to things you don't want tied to the things you do want, Big Brother monitoring of what we eat, read and watch, consumer manipulation, insatiable corporate greed?


About the Creator

Valerie Kittell

I live in a seaside New England village and am trying to become the writer I always wanted to be. I focus on writing short stories and personal essays and I hope you enjoy my efforts. Likes and tips are very encouraging.

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  • janice greene2 years ago

    Lovely! We need to stop the creep of smart appliances..

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