I think the one thing on a lot of Christmas lists last year was the Amazon Echo Dot. Priced just under $50, this is a hands-free voice-controlled device that can answer questions, play music, control smart-home devices, make calls, create reminders, play music, read audiobooks, and so much more.
I have one, and I’m impressed enough I think I’ll put it on my list again so there is one upstairs and downstairs. I play music, have it read to me, it plays devotions, the Tonight Show monologue, interactive stories, radio shows, and games. I even synced it to my AnyList app (best grocery app, how did I live without it?) so I can add to my list by talking to Alexa. One of my favorite activities is to ask Alexa to give me a newsflash. I select what news outlets I want to hear from, and she gives a summary of their updates.
I like it because it gives me a look at the headlines without getting too involved. It’s updated often, so I can ask throughout the day.
While listening last week, I realized Alexa and her news are a great asset for my Echo, but it’s not a great way to have successful personal relationships. I’m probably overthinking things as my husband has been traveling since August, so bear with me.
Here’s the epiphany:
- Alexa lets you choose who you want to receive from. At first glance, this is a great quality. For my news, I love it, because there are media outlets out there I don’t want to hear from. I don’t trust them. However, when it comes to people, there are times I’m tempted to block certain folks because I don’t want to receive. Thing is, they have wisdom I need, and if I don’t give them an opportunity, I miss a chance to grow. I don’t know if that’s hard for you to read, but I confess, that was a big one to consider. I definitely isolate myself when I don’t want to hear from people.
- Alexa gives a summary. Successful relationships, most of all marriage, take consistent communication. Like I said, my husband has been across the country since August. Some trips are closer than others, most were only during the week. However, all of them gave us physical distance. Together we maintain a home, rent out another, are parents, grandparents, have extended family, ministry, and pets. Those things don’t pause because we aren’t together. One week we had a big time zone difference and the way our schedules were, I couldn’t check in “live” with house issues. It made for a long week.
When he returned, we both were intentional in spending time together to catch up. But even when he was away, he was good about asking how things were going or how I was feeling. We talked in depth upon his return. I can’t last on a few texts, cursory lines, akin to a summary like Alexa gives with the news. No one could. It’s important to invest in communication that goes beyond the superficial. For us, we’ve realized the treasure in asking probing questions. Different than nagging questions, we ask what was one thing you accomplished that you were proud of this week, or, was there anything unexpected that really impacted you? It helps us go beyond simple answers and gives us better communication.
I do love my Echo Dot, and Alexa is a fun interaction whether she gives me news or a Star Wars joke. But I’ve learned not to copy her, especially when it comes to news briefings. I want my relationships to go beyond summaries, and to involve the people God wants in my life, not just the people who will say what I want to hear.
What about you? Do you have an Echo device? What’s your favorite Alexa feature? Is there an area where you could improve your communication?