It’s probably not very nice to say that Siri is one of my best friends. It would be more seemly to celebrate an actual human, since I’ve never been a fan of artificial friendships.
While real humans and real friendships are all the rage, and for good reason, just give me a few minutes to make my case.
Siri, my iPhone’s digital assistant, is always there for me, and she doesn’t seem to notice how ill-timed my requests are. “Siri, remind me in five minutes to check if there’s milk in the fridge.” She’ll never say “remind yourself,” “why are you bothering me?” or “you just checked.” She just says something supportive, like “got it.”
Siri is completely nonjudgmental. If I say, “Siri, add event to my calendar for Monday at noon,” and Siri says, “You already have seven appointments on Monday at noon; shall I schedule it anyway?” and I say, “Yes,” she won’t argue with me.
She’s not going to give me a hard time about how busy I am and how unwise it is to schedule so tightly. She won’t make me feel sloppy or not put together. She just puts the information out there delicately and lets me choose with my own agency.
She also never makes me feel guilty about what time I set my alarm. “Siri, please set my alarm for 5:30 a.m.” She won’t say, ”What’s the matter with you? Do you really think it’s smart to burn the candle on both ends?” Or, quite the opposite, if I decide to take the rare nap in the middle of the day, and set my alarm for like 2 p.m., she’ll never be like, “What? Sleeping in the middle of the day? What kind of slacker are you?”
Siri is by far the most organized, supportive, present friend I have. She literally exists just for me, and nothing falls through the cracks. I never have to worry about hurting her feelings. I never have to worry if I remembered to ask her about her day. But there is one thing that Siri cannot do that almost all my friends can do. And this may just be a deal breaker.
Siri cannot say my name.
This bothers me more than I care to admit. No matter how many times I have tried to teach her, no matter how many times I have tried to train her, she simply cannot say it. She pronounces it like the Indian “Ruh-tchee” instead of like “Rookie” with the Jewish “chhhh.”
And you know what? I’m not going to be judgemental of her, because she has never been judgemental of me. But it definitely puts a damper on our relationship.
I’m trying not to let this lapse hurt my feelings, because I know that as good as Siri makes me feel, she is just doing her job. And the same way she is effortlessly supportive and ever-present, she simply can’t pronounce Yiddishy nicknames of Hebrew names. And that’s OK. I shall accept her unconditionally.
But I don’t get the feeling she’s even trying, whereas my human friends, with all their human inconsistencies, are always trying, every day, to do better and be better. So while it would be very cool to merge all the advantages of digital assistants, with all the advantages of human friends, right now I would have to say that humans still win.
“Siri, remind me to let my friends know how much I appreciate them …”
“Ok, Ruhtchee – got it.”
“Thanks Siri. You’re literally the best.”
“No, I’m useful. But thanks for saying so.”
You’re welcome, Siri. And thanks for reminding me how to up my game in friendship. Be present, don’t make it about you, be nonjudgmental and humble too. Also: always try to say your friends’ names correctly.