There are times in life when the mood expresses a certain need.
I don’t know if it was the fact that Mercury had finally stopped being retrograde – or if the full moon had finally done its worst – but I really wanted to see something that would give my life new meaning.
Or, at least, something that would make me reconsider the meaning of technology.
So I drifted over to the repository of all things hardware, Amazon, to see what it could offer.
Deliberately and specifically, I searched for “weird tech gadgets”.
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It’s been my fringe inclination lately, ever since I started living with a robot cat.
What could Amazon offer to beat that? How, indeed, would Amazon’s vast inner intelligence define “weird”?
I was relieved to see that there were 2,000 results. Clearly, I was about to descend into a whirlwind of outrageous splendour.
You call that weird?
But then I opened my eyes. The first offer was the, oh, xsainlao Newtons Kinetic Art Perpetual Motion MachineDesktop decoration toys, scientific physics gadgets, non-stop rolling ball toys, creative anti-stress gifts for friends and family.
It wasn’t weird at all. It was the kind of thing executives used to put on their desks. When they had offices. In the 1980’s.
Well, I guess part of the product description was weird. Sample: “All parts of this product are purely handmade, and you need to assemble them by yourself when you buy them. Therefore, you must have the basis to make handmade products.”
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The base? You mean hands?
Then on to the weird Amazon results – or rather, the weird Amazon results – was the Novium Hoverpen 2.0 – Futuristic luxury pen made with aerospace alloys, unique aesthetics, free-spinning executive pen, cool gadgets, birthday gifts for men and women (black space, basic).
Which simply raised two questions: What? And why?
I noticed that these particular results had been sponsored. So these companies had paid to be in the “weird” search category?
Amazon chooses weird. I choose to mumble to myself
I scrolled a little further, wondering what Amazon itself would choose to fulfill my strange quest.
Luckily, there was a result marked “Amazon’s Choice”.
I was not prepared for this. Amazon suggested The Original Toilet Night Light Tech Gadget. Fun LED light with motion sensor for bathroom. Weird Novelty Funny Birthday Gag Stocking Stuffer Gift Ideas For Him Her Guy Men Boy Toddler Mom Dad Brother.
Why the hell would I need this? And, may I ask, how the hell is that weird?
Amazon – or rather the makers of this illuminating product – claim that it will improve your sleep. “ToiLight is a cool motion-activated led night light that automatically activates when you approach the toilet bowl, illuminating it in a pleasant way that soothes you.”
Do I need a soothing nightlight in the toilet? No. Is it weird? It’s not.
And would you believe that if you buy one of these things, you get a free ebook? “‘365 Secrets of Tidying Up Your Home’ is the perfect complement to your ToiLight as it will help your home always look its best,” the listing reads.
I was worried that Amazon was at its worst. I was beginning to lose hope that the real weirdness even existed.
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Next in Amazon’s recommendations came the Cryptex Da Vinci Code Mini Cryptex Lock Puzzle Boxes with hidden compartments Anniversary Valentine’s Day Romantic Anniversary Gifts For Her Gifts For Girlfriend Box For Me.
Who writes these product descriptions? Why is it good for a birthday or a Valentine’s Day gift? Why doesn’t Amazon understand the concept of weird?
Once I read a bit more about this lock puzzle box, I was ready to concede that it contained some oddity: “The Da Vinci codec is copied from the Da Vinci manuscript in ‘The Da Vinci Code’ According to the plot of the story, there is a scroll about the biggest secret of the Priory of Sion and even the whole [sic] Christianity hidden in the cryptex. To open the cryptex, you must unlock a five-digit code. There are 5 turntables on the cipher cylinder, and each turntable has 26 letters, which can be up to 11,881,376 cryptex permutations and combinations.”
My consciousness started to fade. What new hellfire was this?
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Then the creators of this thing solved the riddle of Valentine’s Day. You might not believe it.
Are you ready?
Are you sure?
Here it is: “If you are planning to propose or give a gift for Valentine’s Day, anniversary, birthday, etc., then cryptex is a great choice for you. Its unique password setting will allow you to will add romance, fun and mystery.We will give you a pair [sic] rings is to help you make your wish come true.”
Do you get a free pair of rings? Now that’s weird.
I accept that one person’s weirdo is another person’s ideal MP. I fear, however, that those who are looking for something different in their life do not choose Amazon as their first source of ideas.
Things may turn out completely different from what they thought.