On the Day Robots Came Alive

This side of the earth lazily drifted back toward the sun and then suddenly rushed into the clatter of my alarm on my phone. In the midst of finding the snooze, 5 notifications from a select few news outlets rattled off not-too-dissimilar headlines about the Ukraine and Pakistan.

Everything is timed

My wife rolls over and wakes up. She’s immaculately beautiful without any effort as she forages for my oldest and most worn hoodie to put on as she makes coffee.

She finds her phone and sees a few texts from her mother, an off email from our church, a series of tweets with subjects that don’t relate to me at all. From there I find her immersed in an article that returns an incandescent blue light obscuring her otherwise beautiful face.

My iPad opens to alert me to a few desperate work emails that I will more or less ignore until I can refuel, ideally, with coffee or Coke Zero or something that less resembles flat water. More alerts come in reminding me of the books on the tablet I haven’t looked at since Sunday and the deadlines of impending projects. I open my own Twitter client to find tweets about web design and code that would be of little interest to my wife.

A curious notification comes in about a band releasing a new record from Rdio. I hit play and the wondrous sounds of synths fill the wireless speakers in the corner. The melodies resonate and sound like a delicate cross between a secret war or the furious erotic lovemaking of two (or several) computers. The beats are programmed on repeat; any existence of analog sounds or human touch seem long since diminished. They leave the haunting of electronic sounds in this apartment.

Mechanically, we continue, our morning coffee being offered and the reminder about when she would leave work. Then each of us in turn regaling the other with headlines, link bait and jokes that emerge from Twitter. My eyes finally opening all the way, taking in a slew of articles I’ve just read or committed to read later, I find myself in the shower when the hot water decides to quit trying.

The sounds of those war-strewn or ravenous computers still flies around this apartment.

My phone pipes in a few more messages that for some reason need my attention, asking almost politely for a response. I open Twitter up again and stories of the repercussions of Adobe’s hack, the fake attacks on Dropbox’s servers and Facebook privacy settings are starting to come in, along with those about the NSA. The attacks (or lack thereof) on Adobe & Dropbox feel like a friend just got mugged in a bad neighborhood. They feel a lot closer than the stories about Obama, the budget or even a story my dad told me about a childhood friend’s father dying a few days ago.

I open Dropbox on my phone to look at some files and accept invitations to new folders. Their new redesign feels like a friendly wave to me. I send my sister a quick encouraging message (she just moved to a new city). Then I jump into another app to let someone in Houston know I’ll be ready to talk in 5 minutes and tell another in Colorado the same, with a few taps that feel like nothing. A notification arrives from an RSS reader about something about Backbone.js and leveraging data objects or something in Laravel and it feels like a new trail opened up for me to go running on, a new challenge emerging. It is followed by a notification about Samsung releasing wearables and I’m instantly excited.

I drop a mug on the floor, it completely shatters and I feel exceptionally indifferent. A newsletter comes to my inbox that I have no memory of subscribing to. Unsubscribe. I get another email confirming I’m unsubscribed. I’m pissed.

My face is just as likely a glow in that pale shining blue light as when I noticed it on my wife.

I decide to microwave an egg and a package of breakfast sausages. A minute later it beeps and I realized the music stopped and it recommended similar artists and their most popular albums. I hit play on one; more electronic sounds pivot around the apartment and the sensual/aggressive computer noises melodically cycle again.

I sit down at my computer and open a terminal & text editor. I start typing and fall back into the flurry of messages I was ignoring. My rhythms seem close to automated. The text editor feels like my childhood bedroom did sometimes, where my imagination can run safely rampant. The whirring of the monitor in front of me is steadily keeping time

My wife comes into my office at home 5 minutes before she has to catch the bus to work, to tell me she’s heading out the door. A notification follows on the side of screen 15 minutes later to tell me that she arrived at work and she loves me.

I fall further into work drumming out some of the same responses, “is their browser up to date?”, “clear your cache”, “are they running the latest version of Wordpress?”, “could you be any stupider?” as if running on a loop. Feeling a drag set in I replace the electronica with a comedy album, Rdio has kindly remembered my favorites and greats me with them.

Each movement feels like a gear turning, more notifications trickle in like clockwork with news updates, RSS feeds, emails, instant messages, invitations, replies and payments. This pattern just exists on repeat.

These machines are running synchronously with my day and remind me when I’m out of step, they can be kind, courteous, helpful and even demanding. They’ve commanded my attention, my affections and are integrated into my thinking. I don’t know what day the robots came alive. But they most certainly are.