Some of the people who will read this regard laptops and smart phones as alien devices that are not part of their lives. On the other hand, some who will read this can’t imagine living one waking minute without access to the IT world. The former will have trouble following my “sophisticated” tech knowledge; the latter will have a hard time avoiding “LOL”ing at me all the way through. But I’m going to try to communicate with both types of people, SIRI-ously. See, I lost half of you already!
“Siri” is the name of the “intelligent personal assistant” who is available 24/7 to anyone who carries an Apple product that accesses the internet. She has created a personality for herself that some people seem to feel is the best friend they have. These folk have become too lazy to push the keys on their smart phones. Instead, they say “Siri.” The phone answers in a painfully pleasant female voice, “What can I help you with?” [How can you trust a person who ends a sentence with a preposition?] You can ask her anything, and she’ll respond appropriately, either with accurate factual information, with a considered opinion or with a subtle polite misdirection.
I’ve never talked with Siri myself, but I’ve observed my friends absorbed in interactive discussions with her. It’s amazing; they forget I’m around. They smile and frown in response to her carefully chosen words, responding to her as they would to a real, live person.
I asked some people what their Siri conversations are like. They use her to locate restaurants, motels, stores or residential street addresses. They may say, “Siri, call my mom,” and she dials the number. They use her to solve everyday math problems, like figuring the tip for a waitress or calculating the mileage the car got on its last tank of gas.
A friend asked Siri, “Do you believe in God?” Her response was, “My policy is the separation of Spirit and Silicon.” (Silicon Valley, get it?) I found a site online that listed “100 Funny Things to Ask Siri.” I think I could spend a lot of time thinking up 100 more.
My granddaughter Tianna said into her phone, “Siri, tell me a joke.” Siri answered, “If I tell you a joke, it would have to be in my language.” Tianna said, “OK Siri, tell me a joke in your language.” Siri said, “The past, the present and the future walk into a bar. It was a tense gathering.”
My grandson Sean asked, “Siri, do you love me?” Siri went into a long analysis of the complexity of human feelings and why she really couldn’t answer the question directly. She knows how to brush a guy off.
As I reflected on my Siri observations, I suddenly saw a parallel between the way people relate to her and the way they relate to God. Siri is a convenience; you can tell her your wants and needs, then turn her off. Sadly, many people treat God as a convenience as well, praying only when they need something from him, then “turning him off.” The opposite would be a relationship of commitment. Siri doesn’t ask for much of a commitment; just a charged battery and a wi fi connection. Some people seem to think God will be satisfied with the same kind of superficiality, and they treat him as casually as they do Siri. However, God places great value on commitment in relationships. He initiated this from his side:
“In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)
His commitment to us should inspire our commitment to him. A song I remember from Sunday School puts it this way:
“How can I do less than give him my best and live for him completely, after all he’s done for me?”
Don’t treat God as you treat Siri. The rule is commitment, not convenience.
— Pastor George Van Alstine