The Gingerbread Man Cometh [Single White Nerd]
My smart phone officially and irrevocably became too smart for its own good on Thursday night at 2:30 AM. I woke to a light beep and blinking indicator. I picked up my phone where it sat, functioning as an alarm clock, on my bedside crate. Instead of the clock I expected to see glowing on the LCD capacitive touch screen, a picture of a smiling green gingerbread man stared back at me.
Gingerbread, Android’s new operating system, had arrived. And he was ready to move in. Very exciting for the faintly closeted tech fetishist.
A few quick button presses, a brief wait, and my phone had become a Gingerbread house. Casting the remnants of sleep aside, I plunged into my upgraded phone with abandon. The keyboard had gained the ability to adapt to the maladroit proddings of my chubby fingers, the new app store lived up to expectations, the maps loaded faster, power management was much improved, the refreshed icons with their eerie green glow gave me a sense of comfort, reassuring me that technology was marching forward, filling old shells with new power and capacity. Gingerbread had seamlessly integrated, my existing configurations and applications were unaffected apart from running more efficiently.
“Gingerbread,” I said, lightly caressing the burnished silver phone, “You are amazing.”
Just as I spoke, my phone buzzed. Not in response to my words, of course. Just a coincidence. Surely.
I cradled my Gingerbread and drifted off to sleep for another hour.
When I woke up, I discovered that Gingerbread had made a small, almost unnoticeable change to one of my widgets. I have several traffic widgets installed on my homescreen. They’re kind of awesome. I press the button and the widget tells me how long it will take me to get to a given location depending on current traffic conditions. Super useful. There are three of these widgets: Work, Santa Monica (because you never know when you’ll need to get a hot dog on a stick), and Home. The first two were the same. But–
Gingerbread had changed the label on my “Home” widget to read “Apartment.”
I clicked on it, went into the menu, opened the renaming dialogue box. “Home,” I typed. Pressed enter. “Apartment,” said the widget. I tried again, “Home.” “Apartment,” it insisted. I tried a third time. . .and then it got weird.
Instead of the widget dialogue box, the Gingerbread figure appeared on the screen. He smiled at me. A line of text appeared beneath him. “Your apartment is not your home. Please do not edit. Thank you. I am the Gingerbread Man and I am here to help.” My phone buzzed.
“Then where is my home, you frigging cookie” I muttered.
The phone buzzed. Gingerbread appeared. “Command not recognized.”
“Find ‘home.’” I said into the phone’s speaker, hoping that I wasn’t having a psychotic break.
My phone buzzed. The Gingerbread Man’s mouth creased in concentration. The phone’s browser opened and filled with links. Links to sites like this, this, this one, and even this bit of hokum. Your time is valuable. I’ll save you the trouble. When asked to find “home,” my newly evolved phone guided to some cheesy meditation texts, a poem by John Donne (I’m not so good at reading oldy-timey crap, but it seems to have something to do with compasses and some girl who is like a pointy thing), and a medley of Bones clips set to music.
Before I could react, Gingerbread was back. He smiled at me. Text appeared: “I will create a widget for you! I am here to help!”
With that, a new widget appeared. Labeled “Home,” it showed up just below my “Santa Monica” widget. According to the Gingerbread Man, travel time to Santa Monica was 20 minutes. To Work was 6 minutes. I was in my apartment, so that was at 0 minutes. And the Home widget. . .
It kept changing. 5 years. I felt a pang of desperation. 3 years, 2 days. A brief flicker of hope. 4 years, 52 hours and 12 seconds. A fleeting resolution to join a meditation group. 2 years, 28 minutes.
A line of text appeared. “Good luck finding Home.”
It’s been a few days since the Gingerbread Man came into my life. My phone has never worked better. But that damned widget (6 years, 4 months, 28 days) keeps distracting me. With every passing moment, every thought, every decision, commitment or lack of commitment, it changes. A constant gauge of my closeness to some sort of Gingerbread-defined sense of ‘home’ or peace or whatever the hell this weird adaptive intelligence has decided I need.
You know what? I don’t need some stupid phone to tell me how close to home I am. As soon as I finish this, I’m going to junk that stupid phone. Or figure out how to exorcise the Gingerbread man. Untether myself from its constant judgment and measurement, live as an independent human being with as much integrity as I can muster.
(1 year, 38 minutes)
Although it might be nice to have some sort of an indication that I’m headed in the right direction. Maybe I can just look at it once a day.
(5 years, 16 minutes)
No. I should definitely get rid of it. Yes, as soon as I press submit.
That’s definitely what I’m going to do.
As soon as I ask the Gingerbread Man one last question.
(7 years, 11 months).
(10 years, 1 hour).
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