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Katie Hawkes

Katie Hawkes

Posted: November 1, 2010 07:44 PM

For someone who works in the communication industry, I have a rather uncharacteristic aversion to technology. I'm serious, smart phones weird me out and I've only recently learned how to consistently work a DVD player. (I mean really, must there be so many remotes and buttons?)

First let's point out: I'm in my early 20s. I really should be more hip than I am. When people mock their parents and grandparents for being behind the times, I'm secretly feeling very geriatric.

If I were to traipse into psychoanalysis land, I might comb through my childhood for a specific instance on which to blame my technological antipathy. But looking back, the best I can come up with is the Disney Channel Original Movie, Smart House.

If you're unfamiliar with this movie, first of all, please correct that error in your life. Anyone who's not well versed in the pre-Zac Efron era of Disney Channel Original Movies is seriously missing out.

The gist of this cinematic gem is that an ordinary family wins a rather unordinary prize -- a smart house, complete with a holographic live-in maid who does everything from cleaning to cooking to mothering this single-parent family. Her name is Pat -- short for Personal Applied Technology -- and she rocks the 1950s-esque, apron-clad housewife image like nobody's business.

Creepy Stepford Wives allusions aside, things initially go pretty smoothly for this family. Until, of course, Pat goes on a power trip and starts taking over. Cue the we-all-saw-that-coming sentiments and creepy theme music.

For some reason, this particular TV movie became embedded in my subconscious. (Can't say the same for the Disney flicks about leprechauns or mermen, but I'm not ruling anything out just because those particular residual effects haven't cropped up yet.)

Smart House aired in 1999, a few years prior to the advent of several big-brother innovations that have since graced society. Let's review two prime examples:

GPS systems in cars. The first time I witnessed someone's car speaking to them, I was more than a little unsettled. Convenient, no doubt. But come on - the GPS woman even sounds like dear old Pat. This has to be a tip-off for at least one other person besides me.

Next up, smart phones. From the first time someone held their phone up to a speaker in a restaurant and it instantly told them what song was playing, I wanted nothing to do with these creepy little wonders. Does it not weird anyone else out that your phone has the ability to listen in on you? Pat has got to be behind that.

There was also that time that I saw Eagle Eye, and right when we became aware that the evil computer was the villain, the power went out in my movie theatre. I clearly remember gripping my roommate's arm in the pitch darkness and squealing something about Smart House and "I knew it" before the lights finally came back on. Terrible experience.

Yes, I am well aware that my life is not as "simple" as some of my comrades because I'm avoiding these oh-so-convenient gadgets. And no, I'm not really as paranoid as I sound. My relationship with technology is more of a yes-that's-definitely-cool-but-no-I-do-not-want-to-touch-it situation. It's sort of like when a friend has a pet rodent. Good for you, but don't you dare let that skittish, unpredictable little creature lay its paws me.

Other relevant note: I recently discovered that Mr. LeVar Burton was the director behind Smart House.

Hello, LeVar? It's me, Katie. Remember the days when you told me taking a look inside a book was all I needed? We maybe could have stuck with that relationship. I'm just sayin'.