For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted one of those things that turns the lights on and off when you clap.
Every time I saw one of those things on TV or in a movie, I remember thinking the epitome of luxury.
Anyone who had enough money to do something like that had more money than they knew what to do with, I thought. Well, I couldn’t have been further off the money.
As of this moment, I am able to not only turn the lights on and off without having to leave the couch, but I can also control my wax melter and coffee maker with the sound of my voice.
I, like many college students, have an Amazon Echo in my apartment. Well, I actually have two, but that’s beside the point.
While I know a ton of people who use it mainly for listening to music, I have found a much greater purpose for Alexa, and all I had to do was pay thirty bucks online to get some new plugs.
These “smart plugs” that I purchased and set up allow me to connect typically “dumb” devices like lamps and coffee makers to my home network.
Once I have everything I want connected to the wifi, I cannot only control them by talking but also control them with my phone.
These advancements in my daily life have been a blessing and a curse.
On one hand, I am able to set a routine for my coffee maker, so as soon as I wake up I have a fresh pot waiting for me in the kitchen.
This has helped me get out of bed earlier and more easily in the morning. Granted, early for me is anytime before 10 a.m., but the point still stands.
To that same degree, I am able to set up a GPS tracker on my phone through the Alexa app to ensure that when I come home, my wax melter turns on and vice versa when I leave.
This makes sure I don’t burn down the apartment, something that my roommate has to appreciate.
On the other hand, I have reached new levels of laziness when it comes to simply flipping a switch.
I have been chastised by my friends, my family and probably the local church elders at this point. “What? You can’t get up and flip a switch?” they say. But you know what? That was my whole purpose in setting all this up.
All the stuff about my coffee is ancillary to the fact that when I am really comfortable under the mountain of pillows and blankets that I have set up for movie night, all I have to do to turn off the lights is say, “Alexa, I’m going to watch a movie.”
As if by magic, she listens to me and I get to remain a toasty cinnamon bun on the couch.
In this day and age of “technology” this and “smart” that, and the growing popularity of the “OK Boomer” meme, it is easy to look at what I have been able to do in my place here in Erie and scoff.
In all reality, I don’t need any of this automation or technology, but the fact that I am able to see where I can be making my life easier, coupled with my ability to carry out these simplifications in my life, is something that not only gives me great pleasure, but also makes me proud of myself.
Every time I call out to the robot speaker and tell her to turn on the lights, it’s another small victory in the life of Ben.
At the moment, it seems like the only victories I’m attaining are the small ones, so I might as well make them count.