By GUINN SWEET
When I was a great deal younger, the only things that talked back to you were your children. Nowadays, every toy, stranger, automobile and kitchen utensil has something to convey to anyone who listens and others who would rather have quiet. The world is seething with idle conversation, insults and instructions, be it desired or not. Some of these things I invite into my life; some are intrusive and unwanted. Some are complete surprises, yet are talking to me as if I were an idiot cousin, come for an extended visit.
Let me illustrate.
Remember the baby doll who would say “mama” when turned on end? She progressed to one with a string and a loop hanging out of the back of her neck. When the string was pulled she said endearing words like, “I love you,” “Mama’s Baby” and “I’m hungry”. That is not enough for today’s toy makers. While doing some Christmas shopping recently, I picked up a doll who repeated every word I said to it. I soon lost patience with it as the doll repeated my every word. It got nastier and the nastier the doll became, the more insulted I got. The shouting match between me and the doll ended when the store manager took it away and shamed on me for arousing a toy to impudence. As he walked away with the doll in his arms, it looked back at me over his shoulder and repeated the exact invectives with which the manager had showered me, even to the rudeness of sticking its tongue out at me.
That’s not all. Recently I saw an advertisement for a luxury car that stated that it is so technologically advanced that it tells you when you need gas, when to check the oil pressure, in a human voice, and even shouts at slower cars ahead; telling them to go faster or get out of the way. It can park itself and even notify the police if the driver has had too much to drink and drive. I read of one that could find restrooms on long trips. I thought it was a great advance when my current car had red lights on the dash to inform me of those needs (except for the restroom info), so when I see red I stop and check everything. I can imagine that if I had a car that talked to me I would get bored with the conversation and drop off to sleep. I can’t imagine that a car would have enough funny stories to keep me interested. Another problem might arise then; I might just tell the car to shut up and it would avenge that nastiness with a trip up a telephone pole.