Dear Smart Kettles: Piss Off

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I’m 35 years old. Every morning I wake up and ask myself, ‘when will it happen?’

What’s the tipping point? When does it begin?

When do I start wearing the same clothes for the rest of my life? What’s the high watermark? When does the tide roll back? What is the element of my personality that will make my children despise me? When will technology stop feeling exciting and vibrant? When will technology begin to confuse and anger me?

I may have already hit that point.

Earlier this week Mark Rittman, a data specialist with a Twitter account, live-tweeted an attempt to connect his smart kettle to his wi-fi network. Rittman wanted to connect his ‘iKettle’ to his ‘smart home network’.

It took him 11 hours to make a cup of tea.

What a wondrous journey. 11 hours. Tweets. Frustration. Eventually success. A kettle that boils water according to specific, tailored lines of code. Magnificent. What a time to be alive.

You can't see me but, right this precise second, I am shaking my fist at a cloud.

I'd like to preface a few things, just for posterity. First off, I understand. I get it. It's fun to make tech 'do things'. Almost certainly Mark Rittman could have plugged that same kettle into the wall, flicked a button manually and had tea within minutes. For sure, that's boring. For sure this was almost certainly an exercise in ‘I wonder if?’

'I wonder if I can get this smart kettle synced up to my smart home because by god we live in a smart world and aren’t I so smart.'

SMRT.

I understand, but by god does every single gadget we own need to be smart? What is the end goal here? What is this Brave New (Smart) World and do we really want to live in it?

Simply put: does a kettle, a device to do one single thing (boil fucking water) really need to be smart?

It’s quite the quandary. One of those moments where you really do question things. Is this the real world? Is this base reality, are we currently in a seventh circle of hell written and designed by Clickhole?

Is this what’s dragged me from an optimistic tech loving millennial to the depraved depths of boomerville? A fucking kettle.

Possibly.

Call me old fashioned, but I always thought gadgets were supposed to improve our quality of life? I’m finding it difficult to imagine how making a kettle ‘smart’ serves anything or anyone, asides from this terrifying relentless shift towards consumption til death. Till we’re broken down corpses in the grave surrounded by shit that connects to our ‘smart coffin’ for some reason.

It’s a fucking kettle. It boils water. That’s it.

By Christ it makes me feel old.

Don’t get me wrong: I love living in the 21st century. I enjoy mobile phones and have apps up the yazoo. I like that my console does more than one thing. VR is cool. I’m curious about the act of vaping and I only hate social media a little bit. I’m the quintessential modern man with my technology, my Instagram account and a love of crushed avocado and crumbled feta on toast.

But smart kettles. That’s the line. That’s the high water mark. That’s what brings out the boomer in me. Those crazy lefties with their kettles and tattoos. Will somebody turn down that racket?

You hippies need a haircut and Australia needs Tony.

This article originally appeared on Gizmodo.


Comments

    Absolutely. And if it can't fill itself up, it's essentially useless to be used remotely. You'll either burn your house down or arrive home to a cold empty jug. Nothankyou

    Ha, I had the same reaction when I heard about the stupid kettle. All these 'smart' things are just making people dumb.

    Totally agreed with everything said in this well written article.

    I often think this about the projects I read about, but then admire the person's tenacity to make something that would be to most people not worth the effort. Unfortunately I also think if I could buy most of these things off the shelf I still wouldn't want it. I have never even put batteries in the remote for my amplifier.

    As I said with this story over on Gizmodo, theres two parts to this. First, the part most of us cant get past - why? Why on earth would this ever be considered worth investing in to the point it becomes a product? You need to fill the frikin thing, just hit the button when you do!

    Secondly, what went wrong. The silliness of being a kettle aside, the actual functionality might have some uses - imagine being able to start dinner an hour before you get home - and really nothing more than making a fancy remote control. Something thats been around for 40 years, so what went wrong?

    This story made me laugh at the efforts needed, but I expect its something we'll all experience at one point or another in the next few years. Maybe not with a kettle, but some equally innocuous device that should just work out of the box.

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