Here’s a fun game: count how many objects in your home are WiFi-enabled. I’m gonna take a stab at it.
… carry the one…
… divide by five…
That’s just a stupid amount of “smart” devices to have in my junior one-bedroom apartment. I only do this when I want to make myself feel like crap. A lot of these devices are old and I don’t use them any more but when it comes to consumer tech, I’m a bit of a hoarder. So it’s like , “This first-gen Amazon Fire TV stick runs like dogshit and I only used it twice but maybe I’ll hand it down to my kids someday.”
If you are the kind of person who has a smart home, the number of smart devices increases significantly. Every light bulb and smart plug is a new link in the chain. My home is one large room, a kitchen, and a bathroom, and I rent it, so I don’t really have time for smart lights, and smart alarm systems, and smart doorbells or whatever. Somehow, though, I’m typing this from a room in which at least 3-different voice-activated devices are plugged in. There’s a Google Home, which is the most useful, there’s a HomePod (which I got for free and would not recommend to anyone because it sucks; I use it exclusively as an Airplay speaker for podcasts), and there’s a Facebook Portal which is a nice device made by a terrible company (the mic and camera are always off but it really makes all of the pictures of my dog “pop,” you know?). I use voice-activated assistants to do precisely two things: find out the weather and set timers.
The only smart home stuff I make regular use of are the plugs that let you turn outlets on and off on your phone (or by yelling at my Google Assistant). Those are great. I have four of them. One is for my box fan in the summer, one is for my A/C in the summer. So those are offline right now. I used to use one with my dog cam, because the paranoiac in me decided that I should be able to cut power to the entire device rather than simply putting it to sleep when it wasn’t in use (I know: I am not ideologically consistent about this stuff). However, I am no longer out of my apartment for eight-hour stretches, so that plug is also in storage.
The last plug, which stays in year-round, is for my lamp. I hate it.
The smart plug works great, for the record. No notes. I hate it for reasons that are entirely my own fault. I made the mistake of going into the settings for my Kasa Smart Plug (model no.: HS105) and setting it to automatically turn on my lamp at sunset. It is the worst thing I have ever done in my entire wretched life.
Because now instead of it gradually getting darker, I have this light pop on in what should be the afternoon, all but yelling “IT’S NIGHT NOW.” Today, the bummer light clicked on at 4:36pm. That’s too early. I used to be able to ease into night time, and ever since DST kicked into effect, I’ve got this light popping on, mocking me. “You wasted the whole day!!!!”
I did not in fact waste the whole day but it feels like I did. Because this lamp in my corner kicks on while I’m working, as if to say “It’s quitting time! Please slide down the back of a brontosaurus and into your foot-powered car.” It makes me feel like a sack of crap. Should I turn that setting off? Duh. Am I going to keep it on out of morbid curiosity and stubbornness and toxic pride? Absolutely.
This is me complaining about a hell of my own making, and I’m being overly philosophical for effect, but I also can’t help but think about all of the smart home setups across the country who have similar configurations. Before the internet, having a house that responded automatically and dynamically to the position of the sun was a thing for people with butlers. Now everyone has access to tools that make their homes automatically inform them when the day is done, and they might need it since there’s no commute to the office or end-of-day routine for the foreseeable future. People stuck at home, quarantining with family or friends (or alone), trying to get stuff done, and then — in what feels like the middle of the day — their house snaps into night-time mode. It’s jarring! And very depressing! It’s just like, bam, day’s over.