Lately I am frustrated by Siri, iPhone’s little freak who answers questions. At my house she’s taken to watching Star Trek episodes. She’s been practicing, “The ship will self destruct in 47 seconds.” Very cool. Very smooth. Makes me want to give her a virtual wedgie to see if her pitch changes.
Every time I ask out loud a rhetorical question like, “I wonder how much that gymnast weighs?” someone feels compelled to ask Siri. “Wonder what a gold medal weighs?” “Wonder how long fresh bread takes to mold?” “Wonder if a dog’s mouth is dirtier than a human mouth?”
The fine art of pondering is gone, killed by the iPhone. More specifically, Siri. Rhetorical questions are not really questions. They are a way to ask, “Does this really matter?” Only very occasionally do I actually want an answer. If I ask, “Wonder what that gymnast weighs?” I am starting a conversation about the value of sports, about what being that fit does to her later chances of reproducing, about where she shops for clothes, and about how tall the boys she dates might be. I do not really want to know how much she weighs. If you answer, “87 lbs.” then the conversation is over!
I had to ask, “Dear Siri, how can I get you to stop killing rhetorical questions?” (Suddenly, the little vixen is tongue-tied.) Hmmm. I wonder if she’s thinking….