Imagine if your name was synonymous with an incredibly popular form of artificial intelligence.
For women with the name Alexa, the success of Amazon’s digital assistant has made the name both more recognizable as well as spurred inevitable jokes about, for example, what the weather is doing (Amazon's Alexa can give a weather report).
In December of last year, the tech giant said it had sold millions of Alexa-enabled units— nine times more than the previous holiday season. The Echo is “officially mainstream,” according to Slice Intelligence.
I spoke to five Alexas for a lighthearted look at how they feel about their name.
“It’s a blessing and a curse,” Alexa Scordato, the vice president of Stack Overflow, a website for software developers, told Fox News. On the plus side, people recognize her name more easily, she said— it’s less likely to be misspelled at Starbucks or misheard as Alexia or Alexis.
But Scordato also has an incredibly simple Twitter handle: @Alexa.
PSA: When you message me here on Twitter, you're not actually referring to Amazon Echo. I'm not nearly that useful.— Alexa Scordato (@Alexa) July 13, 2016
And no, thank you very much, but tweets addressed to @Alexa do not have any official connection with the digital, Amazon-powered Alexa.
“Having Alexa as a Twitter handle has definitely been a little problematic,” she said.
Scordato doesn’t have an Echo, but friends do, and it creates a little chaos. “They have Amazon Echos,” she said, “and they’ll often say ‘We can’t talk about you!’ or ‘When I’m on the phone with you that thing won’t shut up!’” (Amazon allows customers to change the wake word to “Echo,” “Amazon,” or even “Computer,” like in Star Trek.)
Alexa Shouneyia, social media coordinator for the website billboard.com and a graduate student in music business at New York University, said that she has “become the Amazon Echo of my friends,” thanks to jokes asking her to turn off the lights or play music. She thinks the whole phenomenon is hilarious.
“When it first came out, I thought it was kind of cool,” Shouneyia told Fox News.
“And then I thought it was the universe’s worst revenge ever for me complaining as a child that they never had any keychains or anything else with my name on it,” she said with a laugh. “And now it’s everywhere.”
“I’ve actually talked to a couple others Alexas,” she said. “Other Alexas seem to have a stronger opinion than I do about it. They seem pretty angry, and I don’t feel that way.”
However, for listeners of her show, her name has its effect from afar.
“People will tune in,” she said. “My co-host will say my name, and if they end up having the device, it can activate the device.”
The same thing happens for her husband, Peter Rosenberg, who hosts two radio shows. If her name comes up on his shows, she gets reports of listeners’ Echos going off, she said.
“It’s really pretty humorous, because I get a text every once in awhile,” she added, “or a tweet, that’s like ‘Oh you just set off my device, haha, they were talking about you on the show.”
“Now thanks to Amazon, I’m finally becoming confident with my name,” she said with a laugh, even if she still does somewhat hate the name that she said her sister gave her.
Journalist Alexa Pipia said that her friends (and sometimes strangers) will joke around about it.
“They’re like, Alexa, what’s the weather? And I’m like, ‘okay, go outside and check yourself,” she said, laughing.
It’s not a big deal— but still. “I love my name so much,” she said, lightheartedly. “I don’t want to have that association with an electronic device.”
“Alexa’s a real girl's name, it’s not a robot’s name,” she laughed.
She was ambivalent about the fact that Alexa devices seems to have made the name more recognizable and perhaps more popular— she liked that it felt like a unique name.
“But that’s ok,” she added. “It is a pretty name, so I can’t complain.”
Follow Rob Verger on Twitter: @robverger