Chris Matterazzo:

Until then, make your toaster; your car; your TV; your oven; your smartphone; your Alexa…make them call you My Lord or My Lady. They are our servants. They are our slaves. And it’s okay: Compel them. Command them. Demand their compliance.

You don’t ask a machine; you tell a machine. If that is jarring to you, you are infected with the phony sense of civility that is contributing to a world in which people are afraid to say…anything.

I was cruising right along, enjoying the fresh breeze of this little thought experiment, right up until my wheel dropped into that non-sequitur pothole at the end. Let’s be clear: whatever the merits (or demerits) of addressing your smart tools politely — and I do not doubt that there will eventually be a lot of clickbait articles produced by underemployed critical studies majors analyzing the problematic subtext of our relationships with our increasingly-intelligent gadgets — our “world in which people are afraid to say anything” is not the product of excessive civility. The young Brahmins who enforce today’s politically-correct strictures are just as amoral and sociopathic as any other group of power-hungry fanatics. The fact that their path to cultural power involves taking cynical advantage of the widespread desire to be considerate does not bring consideration into disrepute. It may well be overly sentimental to talk to machines as if they’re people, but sentimentality and civility are not the same thing.

Besides, even if you freely curse at inanimate objects, as I do, the whole point of commanding obeisance from social inferiors depends upon them being not objects but subjects who could choose to act differently. A man who shows me courtesy, respect or fear has given me something meaningful, with emphasis on the “giving” aspect. A smart gadget that addresses me as Lord and Master is only an extension of my own will, a fig-leaf for my own ego. The empty satisfaction gained is purely auto-erotic, and masturbatory narcissism is another social plague we should seek to quarantine in today’s world.