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Sunday, February 3, 2013

yes or no

So here we are.

A friend of mine had a conundrum. He was asked a yes or no question, and yet it really wasn’t that simple:

Do you love [me]?

The brackets are there for a reason. The brackets represent the name of an app. That is correct. An app asked him this question.

His relationship with the app was mere hours old, but boy did that app get needy fast. The question popped up on the screen, large, blue and impatient: Do you love [this app]?

And the only options he could tap to answer were yes or no.

Clearly the app had never been in sixth grade or passed folded notes in class, or else it would surely know that the options to offer would be yes, no, or maybe

And let’s not forget the use of the word love. Love. Not like. Love. Love is a strong word. Love has heavy connotations and commitments attached to it. So this app is serious, and wants an answer now, preventing one from further use until a decision is made.

Love it? Yes or no?

This is not easy for anyone. An app is not something one truly loves. You can like it. You can even really like it. But going further into like-liking, or having a crush... or loving-it-so-much-why-don’t-you-marry-it seems a bit much for a bunch of zeroes and ones, no matter how handy or life-changing it is. There are those who cannot admit to loving a person, let alone smartphone software.

And what of the consequences? Does a yes mean promising the app more than you can deliver? Will it demand exclusivity? Will it stalk you and constantly text you? Must you ask it to prom? If you download another app, is that cheating?

Likewise, does a no mean that the now-rejected app will seek rabbit-boiling vengeance upon you? Does Hell hath no fury like an app scorned? Will you need a restraining order?

It’s too much for an app to ask, and in my friend’s case, far too soon. Nevertheless, his finger hovered and shook, finally just settling on yes. He bristled after the tap, waiting warily for the consequences.

But all the app ultimately wanted was to be rated (presumably to be told it was pretty). That answer was an easy one: no, thanks. He breathed a sigh of relief and moved on with his life. 

I felt a little dirty and voyeuristic watching this exchange take place, caught up in the drama of it all, unsure of what I would do in a similar scenario. And then it hit me: I suppose it’s only a matter of time before the television networks start making primetime dramas and soaps with smartphones playing major characters. Siri, get ready for stardom. (To which she responds: I’ll do, it for, triple, scale, and a producer, credit.) 

Siri’s cadence is a bit like Shatner’s, isn’t it? She can’t lose.

Yes indeed. Welcome to me.


  1. Once, I was flying on Austrian Airlines, and the flight attendant kept asking the passengers, "Would you love a newspaper or a magazine?" I think it's because she felt that native English speakers were correcting her when she asked them whether they'd like a cup of coffee, and their response was, "Oh, I'd LOVE a cup of coffee!"

    Austrians are big into correcting other people, and they don't raise an eyebrow when people publicly announce that someone is incorrect about something. It's their default setting.

    1. As an Austrian myself I guess I have to agree we like (love?) to correct people. We don't mean it with any kind of malicious intent though...