Bots don’t eat yogurt by Pamela Francis

Like many of you I have become broadband’s bitch, much to my chagrin and resistance, which I hear-tell is futile according to all villains past present and future. So as such I am in the throes of how do I take back control of my family’s life now that virtually everything we do (pun intended and woefully unavoidable) is tied to internet access.

I confessed to my 11-yr old (Junie) that I had once promoted the vagaries of having a tech savvy minion inhouse.  His older brother, my Malachi, has worn that hat since the day I realized I could no longer run wires from the back of my tv to the cable box without his assist. He may have been 13 at the time. As things got decidedly more wiry, even as they got wire less, I didn’t even bother trying to learn or figure out what a _(blank)__ was or how to get a _(blank)__ to connect to the _(blank)__. I just called on Mallie. His career as family Tech Support took off and we even played with the idea of having him apply to Apple where we heard he could make $18 an hour remotely helping people like me do the stuff kids like him were doing with their hands tied behind their backs. The ethics of trying to pass off a middle schooler as an employable adult kind of put the kibosh on that.  So we decided to just be grateful he was inhouse and always amenable.  Now, with everybody in the house, including grandma, “running ads” to “drive traffic” to their “funnel”, my Junie has taken center stage.

Junie creates digital art, gifs and banners for people’s social media presence, of which everyone and their grandmother (really, their grandmother) now has need. I am going to give away a little-known secret here in the safety of MLTS. Teanna Cuppington of Soap Opera Digest fame is Grandma. Do with that what you will. I don’t watch soap operas anymore. Haven’t since I used to tape episodes of General Hospital so that I could come home from work at Universal Pictures, and see what Stavros, Meekos and the gang had done to my beautiful scar-faced Anna Devane and dashing Aussie Robert Scorpio THIS time. But I am glad that mom gets paid to watch this drivel or else how could I stand another minute of the sound of Quinn, Carter, and Phyllis’s ceaselessly loopy Ground Hog’s Day dialogue about their ceaselessly loopy redicaments (that’s Ridiculous and Predicaments. Redicaments.)

But like Phoebe Wallingford, I digress.  We were talking about my kid, your kids, OUR KIDS, being irrevocably tethered to technology and if this was going to be okay. So, is it? Is it okay that my sons don’t go anywhere or do anything for more than the time it takes to brush their teeth (thank God they’re still doing that!) without asking how the wifi is where we’re going? I’m exaggerating, of course. Since I began worrying incessantly about this state of the new abnormal I’ve gotten them to zipline, do a ropes course, ride bikes, play basketball at the Y, and help me build and furnish a tiny house on our land. They acquiesce, getting up from their workstations (after almost a full fifteen minutes of doing whatever kids have to do before they can leave their keyboards unattended. WTF?) and appeasing my ceaselessly loopy insistence that they show me they can find interest in unplugged activities that don’t involve servers and which allow them to be “AFK”. Yeah. If you can tell me what that means, you win a prize. But I already gifted you with the Teanna Cuppington scoop, so no more freebies.

Junie did say one thing the other day that really comforted me. After trying to scare him for the eleventieth time by conjuring up images of a future not so distant where all our kids will be rounded up to do the bidding of whatever incarnation of lifeform is in charge (hint, the new rulers didn’t spend all of their developmental years giving their beingnesses over into the hands of the Metaverse) I asked him how he felt about the prospect of possibly being someone’s bot.  I asked him if he recognized that he may in fact already BE someone’s (mine? Grandma’s?) BOT!

To which he said, generously plunking raspberries into a cup of vanilla Activia… “Bots don’t eat yogurt.” And that was good enough for me.

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