If this title has you thinking to yourself, “that’s it, AI has gone too far”, I’m not going to tell you that you’re wrong. But, it’s not what you think it is. At least, I hope it’s not?
Well, now that I’ve made it weird, to help get the image of a Google robot sneaking into my bedroom and speaking sweet code into my ear while my husband was away on business, let me go ahead and try to explain myself.
I have this theory. Stick with me here, okay, because it’s about to be a really confusing ride and it somehow involves the movie 101 Dalmatians. Not the animated one, the 1996 remake. Again, please stick with me.
Let me set the scene: the year was 1996 and Disney decided it was going to put a live action spin its classic animated film, 101 Dalmatians. The Disney casting room landed on Glenn Close, who I, at ripe age of 9, only associated with the made for tv movie “Sarah, Plain and Tall” to handle the role of Cruella de Vil and Jeff Daniels, who the entire world only associated with the CLASSIC movie, Dumb and Dumber, as…Roger? I guess that was his name, but, to me, he was always just a more polished version of Harry Dunne who finally got his shit together, sold his pet grooming van, but still kept a love of animals deep in his heart. Anyway. In this movie, they also (obviously) included SEVERAL (101, maybe?) LIVE Dalmatian puppies.
None of that information was really necessary, but I felt compelled to recap in case anyone was living under a rock (or God forbid, wasn’t born yet) in 1996. Back to the point – after the movie came out, there was a nationwide plea from animal rights activists asking Disney to add a disclaimer to the movie that said something along the lines of, “We at Disney KNOW these puppies seem cute, and you’re definitely going to want to buy one, but they’re actually very high maintenance dogs who love to bite ankles and rip apart your shit, so please, for the love of GOD, if you aren’t prepared for the responsibility, maybe pick up a goldfish instead”. I’m paraphrasing, of course, but I believe it was something along those lines.
Now, if you’ve ever seen a Dalmatian puppy, you know they are cute as hell. And not only are these things cute, but their classic black and white spotted *lewk* triggers some sort of nostalgic feeling deep inside that makes you just kind of…want one, so those animal rights activists weren’t wrong.
AND HERE, dear reader, is where I draw my parallel.
What 101 Dalmatians did to so many people in 1996, Google Photos did to me…once around February 2018 and again around October of 2022. Yes, those are the dates that Google Photos (indirectly) got me pregnant. *slowly lifts phone and points to the cutest, most perfect, most squooshy face of our first baby at 5 months old with a caption at the top written in a tiny font that reads, “5 years ago today“*
Yes, Google Photos (and all of social media), much like 101 Dalmatians, has a way of showing us “consumers” exactly what we need to see, when we need to see it, and I’ll be God damned if it doesn’t work on me every single time. Seriously. One minute, I’ll see a skincare ad on Instagram and the products are immediately in my cart and the next, I’ll see a cute memory of my kids as babies, smiling, cooing and doing all of the “perfect baby things” pop up on my photo sharing app and I’m instantly laughing at my husband’s jokes and asking him if we should go “on vacation” sometime soon. I’m impressionable to say the least, but the nostalgia I feel every time I see these photos of my sweet babies in earlier stages sends a signal to my brain that says “…you should like, totally have another baby” and, well, a few times I’ve gone for it.
Before I go any further, let me JUST say, there is nothing I love more in my life than my OWN little ankle biters, better known as my three children, and I prayed for each of them. In fact, I could picture them before they were here. BUT, I’m not too proud to also say that the timing of their entrance into this world is partially thanks to the technology we all carry around in our pockets every day. Would I change that? Not a chance. But, could I have used a disclaimer kind of like those animal rights activists were requesting before downloading the Google Photos app that said something along the lines of “the images we will be serving up from your past may cause baby fever and the only prescription is
more cowbell to spread those legs, girl?” I mean, sure? Because baby fever hits me quick and it hits me hard, and history has proven I haven’t put up much of a fight when it enters the ring.
The truth is, nothing can prepare a person for how fast these kids grow up. Not the baby books. Not Aunt Susan saying, “it all goes so fast”. Not even experiencing it yourself from child to child. So, when those sweet memories pop up and the nostalgia hits you right square in the face, it’s hard not to want to relive it all again. That being said, the memories we see ARE always sweet, right? Of course they are! Just like those damn puppies in the movie. They only showed the sweet moments – not the ripped up sandals on the floor. And we do the same thing to ourselves. We don’t think to whip out our phones and take a picture when our kid is throwing a tantrum on the way to daycare because he is missing the sock ingredient to his favorite “socks with Crocs” ensemble. And we definitely think, “OH, I should be recording this” when you’re covered in their vomit at 2 am on Christmas Eve. But, that’s okay. I’m glad those sweet memories exist and I’m glad I picked up my phone when I got the “Your Memories Spotlight” notification in February of 2018 and October 2022. I’m glad I was lucky enough to have the sweetest little boy to have those *perfect* images of.
So, while I highly doubt Google knew it was getting women all over the world pregnant indirectly (or, hell, maybe it did, you can’t trust Big Tech), I’m sure glad it caught me in my “vulnerable” moments, because look what I have now. It may not always be picture perfect, but it’s perfect for me.