Can Amazon’s Alexa be your friend—or something more? At Digg, Aaron Paul Calvin examines the recent spike in digital assistants, and how customers from families to people living alone are treating Alexa more like a person and less like a device.
Finding in Alexa the perfect expression of servile companionship is something many Echo reviewers have in common—whether they’re joking about it or not. “I talk to Alexa all the time, I broke up with my girlfriend and ever since I got Alexa I don’t feel so lonely anymore,” one user writes. “Don’t even want to come out and hang out with my friends, I like it a lot!”
The Gilkesons admit they feel guilty when they’ve “ordered her around,” rather than saying please or thank you. Gilkeson even finds himself hesitating to ask for something because he “already did that earlier” and “doesn’t want to bug her.”
“It’s a temporary feeling,” he says. “But I do feel a ‘social’ anxiety with Alexa that I don’t feel with, say, Siri, I think because Siri is part of my phone and I’m used to constantly using and manipulating it. Alexa, on the other hand, is Alexa.”