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My name is Alexa and I loved it until Amazon's smart assistant came along and ruined it

Alexa Nizam   

My name is Alexa and I loved it until Amazon's smart assistant came along and ruined it
  • My name is Alexa and growing up I absolutely loved it.
  • That was until Amazon created their smart assistant and gave it the same name as me.

Growing up, I loved having the name Alexa. Aside from a brief first-grade obsession with the name Rebecca, I've always been happy with it and never had a reason to feel otherwise.

That's until Amazon created Alexa, the ubiquitous little device that took the world by storm in 2015.

At first, the references were subtle. People would ask if I liked sharing my name with a know-it-all robot, and I'd say that while they should have gone with something more obscure, it hadn't really affected me.

I was so naïve.

I've heard all the jokes

Within a few years, the mentions really picked up. I worked at a department store in 2018, and at least once a day, a customer would make fun of my name. "What's the weather today, Alexa?" "What time is it, Alexa?" Some would even say things like, "I bet you get those jokes all the time," as if they weren't part of the onslaught themselves.

I couldn't go a few hours — much less a whole shift — without someone acknowledging my name.

Then, the "This is so sad, Alexa play 'Despacito'" meme came along. That cultural moment was the peak of my torment: I couldn't introduce myself to anyone without having a dreaded Amazon moment.

Some people were sympathetic, others continued to make jokes, but everyone just had to chime in on my misfortune.

The one silver lining during those early years was my college graduation cap. I'd gone to college in Texas and planned to move back to my hometown of Los Angeles after graduation, so I decorated my grad cap to say, "Alexa, play 'Going Back to Cali.'" It felt like my one tiny win — if I had to be subjected to bad jokes for the better part of a decade, at least I could own the narrative for a brief, shining moment.

In virtual meetings, when someone named it, their devices would go off

The pandemic era didn't offer any relief. You'd think working from home would help the references slow down, but you'd be wrong. During Zoom calls with coworkers, if anyone said my name, someone's device would go off in the background.

In almost every meeting, there would be a one-minute distraction for us to listen to Alexa say, "I'm sorry, I'm having trouble understanding right now…" while everyone snickered to themselves and waited for her to finish. Then came a round of, "So sorry, that must be so annoying," before we'd rinse and repeat on the next call.

And yes, in case you were wondering, this still happens. I had my latest incident just last week.

The memes have slowed down, and I'm back to loving my name again. If anything, being able to say "Alexa, like the Amazon robot" makes it more memorable when I meet new people. It's actually helped cut back on the misnomers I used to get all the time: Alexis, Alexia, and Alex are (mostly) a thing of the past.

Do I still wish Amazon had chosen a more obscure name for their product? Of course. There's a reason Apple went with Siri (sorry to any Siris out there), and Google's device is activated by saying, "Hey Google." The most ironic part is that the Amazon device can actually be named something else. In my own apartment, my device responds to "Echo" instead of "Alexa" to keep the chaos to a minimum.

Despite the ups and downs, I'm still proud to be named Alexa. Just please stop asking me about the weather, OK? The other Alexa has that covered.

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