All of us here are techie folk. We like gadgets and innovation. Anything with virtual reality – ala Google’s new 3D paintbrush – turns us into covetous, giddy teenagers. But not everyone is as charmed by technology as we are. One of the underestimated joys of being a techie-type is witnessing our friends and family who are not. They’re the ones who over-click and throw a fit when the system freezes up, who refuse to relinquish the browser they first started using in the nineties. These are our people; we are responsible for them. If you’re anything like me though, you take a moment to revel in the glory of the Luddite before swooping in to help.Due in part to all those years of letting my Luddite friends squirm, it’s come to my attention that it’s their time for retribution. So here we go: the voice of the Luddite shall be heard. Recently, Realtor.com named the Top 10 Cities for Smart Houses in the US. Every year brings the installation of new smart home technologies that would horrify your average tech novice. To illustrate the point, I hand over the reins to my inner technophobe who will enlighten us on the dangers of Smart Homes in each of these cities. What could go wrong?
10. Salt Lake City, UT
Those of you who have never been to Salt Lake City probably think that the name comes from the Great Salt Lake just west of the metropolis. I have a different theory. You might notice that cars there rust at an alarming rate. The name Salt Lake more likely refers to sheer corrosive power of NaCl – it corrodes structures like the lapping waves of a lake corrode the shoreline. Now just imagine dropping a smart house into that equation. Not only do you have to worry about the salt eating away at the foundational structure of your house, but it’s only a matter of time before it finds its way into the wiring. Once that happens, you’re toast my friend. Salty salty toast.
9. Atlanta, GA
Atlanta’s hospitals are in flux. Basically, hospitals all over the city are hustling to merge with or acquire one another. You wouldn’t think this would be an issue when its comes to smart homes, except for that fateful day when your house decides to turn against you and heats your temperature-controlled swimming pool to boiling-level in revenge for that time you yelled at it for not pre-heating the bathtub. Your initial reaction would be to call an ambulance, but with the hospitals locked in bureaucratic negotiations, who knows how long it would take them to get there to treat your burns. Keeping a first aid kit on hand is always prudent.
8. Riverside, CA
Riverside, part of the greater Los Angeles area, is prone to dust storms. If I owned a home in California, I’d be sure to have lots of solar panels to soak up that year-round California sun. If my home was a smart home, obviously the daily operations of said solar panels would be automated so that I didn’t have to worry about accessing the roof of my multi-story house. Inevitably, one day a dust storm would blow in and cover the solar panels with inches of dirt and grime and my only recourse would be to climb up there with a broom and rag. In all likelihood, the wiring on the panels would short out and shock the bejesus out of me. Up on a roof we’re all as helpless as a lost hiker with no cell service. My future would be dependent upon observant airplane passengers, recreational drones, and nosy neighbors.
7. Chicago, IL
It gets cold in Chicago. Any smart home owner in that city would have the coolest cold-weather home gadget, an energy efficient radiator that doubles as a bed. The idea itself is pretty clever, it’s a pad that is built into the wall but has the capability to flip down onto the floor for a person to lay on. What happens though when something goes haywire and the radiator pad flips back up into the wall while you’re still on it? It sounds like a tanning booth gone bad. Chicagoans, in my humble opinion it’s best to invest in a good winter coat instead of a smart home.
6. Houston, TX
Smart house sabotage in Houston would be a breeze. All it would take is one malicious bug in the system and the thermostat’s gonzo. No more AC. Opening the windows wouldn’t do any good with temps in the 100s and humidity in the 90s – not that you could open the windows anyway, since those are probably connected to the system too. I recommend smart house owners keep a stash of ice, water, and handheld fans in close proximity at all times.
5. Los Angeles, CA
See #8 Riverside. Plus, LA has the La Brea Tar Pits which means that if things really went bad, you’d have tar to deal with too. For instance, image you had a self-driving car logged into your smart house server. (If that’s even possible? It probably is, all this technology these days is crazy.) Your house could drive your right into a giant pit of tar alongside sabretooth cats and mammoths. Not a fun way to go.
4. Miami, FL
Aside from the fact that Florida is sinking – water and electronics don’t mix – there are some very real legal issues to consider when owning a smart home in Florida. Say your smart house locks you out because you forgot to reprogram it when you returned from vacation. The most obvious recourse is to call a locksmith/programmer and wait for him or her to arrive to fix the issue. In the meantime, you’d probably go down to the beach and have a glass of wine, figuring you might as well extend your vacation another hour. But beware, drinking on a beach in Florida could land you in jail. Your smart house can’t bail you out of jail, now can it?
3. New York, NY
If you have started watching the second season of Mr. Robot, which is set in NYC, I needn’t say anything about the perils of owning a smart house in New York. If you haven’t seen Mr. Robot, I’ve got one word for you: Hackers. Consider yourself warned.
2. Dallas, TX
See #6 Houston. Texas is just too hot to own a smart house safely, folks.
1. Phoenix, AZ
It’s beyond me how Phoenix garnered the number one spot for smart homes in the US. I mean, seriously, in a city where there’s an average of a little over 7 inches of rain per year (the US average is 36.5 inches) would you trust an automated system to supply your drinking water? I wouldn’t. Apparently the technology industry in Phoenix is thriving though, and all of the weirdos who want to live in houses that can’t be renovated without a computer science degree are flocking to Phoenix. Let them have it, I say. Us Luddites need to stick together.
Brooke Faulkner is a writer in Portland, OR. She loves all things gadgetry and can usually be found fiddling with her smartphone.