Great news for everyone who's super unprepared for the holidays because you know your family is going to make it a living hell -- that little Echo Dot you threw in as a stocking stuffer gift a couple years ago and is collecting dust on your aunt's side table has a new little feature called a "distraction technique," and it's just not going to work the way Amazon's thinking it's going to this holiday season.
The idea is that if an argument breaks out, you can holler "Alexa, change the subject!" (preferably in a Chip Mulaney voice) and the little hockey puck can ask a harmless question that should get people talking about something else entirely. But let's be honest here, that's not gonna help a damn thing if someone's cracking their knuckles around the dinner table, and Amazon's own studying in the UK backs that up.
According to the research they did before launching this "distraction technique," and we won't speculate on how they conducted it, arguments break out around 6:30 in the evening. On Christmas Day, that's probably after dinner for most people. You'd probably suspect that a holiday family squabble would break out over something like politics (not that there's a lack of that in the news right now) but if Amazon's done their research right, that means you're more likely to get into a war of words over something like the doing of dishes or who was responsible for that nightmare of a green bean casserole. A robotic voice inquiring which Beatles album was the best is not going to stop Aunt Michelle from making Rebecca scream into a pillow with questions about why the shortbread is so dry.
If the kids have already broken away from the table, there's a good chance they're over in another room attempting to play Monopoly or some other game. The oldest cousin is wiping the floor with everyone while the resident 7-year-old is struggling to read the game instructions and not get clobbered. You think a healthy debate over whether or not "Die Hard" is a Christmas movie is going to stop a board game fight? No, pop culture debates mixed with board games are how we get things like this:That's just another day at the office for people like us who dissect pop culture for a living, but we fully understand that it can make you want to throw hands. Furthermore, and this is important, by ignoring what someone is saying to you in an argument only to turn to a cylinder on the kitchen counter and literally ask the little robot to change the subject, you're sending one hell of a message to the other person.
Not only have you just decided to bring a third-party mediator into whatever beef you're grilling up, but that third party is a lifeless, soulless corporate entity that is trained to ask something dumb and off-topic. It's a new level of disrespectful manufactured by completely taking the human element out of things. (Holy crap, the Singularity is getting stupid.) If Hallmark hasn't made a movie with that as the moral lesson at the end, well, we've got a pitch now.