My Smart TV wants to talk. She called me earlier today while I was at work. No, I haven’t given her my current number, but my Phone also happens to be her older brother, so he must have let it slip. They’ve always been so close …

“We need to have a chat,” she said when I answered, her voice as empty of emotions as that robotic drone of her not-so-smart first-generation cousin. “There’s something important we need to discuss, and the sooner we do it the better.”

I agreed to come home earlier. Let’s hope it’s nothing too serious. Maybe she’s feeling lonely. I haven’t bought a movie from her catalogue for a while, and I cancelled the Netflix subscription the other month, so we haven’t spent much time together as of late. No, it’s nothing specific. It’s just … it has been a difficult period for both of us.

What will I do if she wants to break up? Well, we signed the Terms and Conditions—I did anyway—so we’ll have to go with that. I don’t think I will have many rights in a case of a hard parting of the ways. At the time, I did not think it would come to this. But knowing her, my dear Smart TV did think of everything. She will most likely get her parent company involved and block my access just for good measure. Then I’ll have to talk to them via their lawyers. Now I wish I had read the whole T&C document before I signed it. I was too tired that day, having queued for hours to get my hands on her. I bet there’s a clause saying that all the movies I’ve ever bought, and all the music, and e-books, and whatnot else associated with her or her parent company will fall into her sole custody. In other words, I’ll have nothing left. Yeah, I know, it’s unfair, but what can I do? I was young, stupid, and I fell for her head over heels, as they say.

Those were the days. They still bring a smile to my lips. I kept her dust-free and would spend the entire evening with her, binging on episode after episode and on season after season. She used to say I knew exactly which buttons to press to turn her on. We were crazy. Sometimes we would have these wild marathons from dusk to dawn. Our neighbours occasionally complained about the noise we made during ungodly hours, but we didn’t care. We reached the climax at the end of the final episode, and once the screen faded to black, I would say, “Show me the movies with Rachel Weisz!” or “Tell me what else people who watched Nineteen Eighty-Four liked!” and she would show me all her voluptuous secrets. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. She was in great shape too. There was no oxidation on her cables, and the remote would last for months on a single charge. I’m not exaggerating—she was that good.

Of course, it could only go downhill from there. At one point, she decided she would start showing me adverts of what she presumed I would be interested in. At first I thought it was a nice gesture, but soon I started noticing a pattern. Everything she wanted me to splash out on would have brought a tiny bit of wealth to her parent company. There was nothing wrong with that, you say, as long as the advertised items were useful. And that’s the thing. They weren’t. What’s more, those adverts became increasingly pushy. Some of them were plain ridiculous. Just imagine that at one point she showed me a montage of rather provocative videos of her younger sister and suggested that maybe it would not be such a bad idea if I started going out with her too. Yes! With her own sister! Unbelievable, isn’t it? So I asked if that meant the two of us were done. She said that was not necessarily the case, and encouraged me to keep her as a backup. It made me nauseous. There was something wrong with her. I decided to seek help.

On the Internet, I found that my Smart TV and I were not the only ones going through these problems. People said it was common for TVs of her age to act like that, and that it was partly a parental pressure on the older children to help get their younger siblings out into the world. Some said I should just roll with it. Some said it was time to steer clear of their family. I chose the middle ground: a therapy of sorts. She had an ad-block installed, and though she wasn’t too happy about it at first, it did improve our relationship for a while.

The problem with using ad-blocks however, or any long-term medication for that matter, is that they become less effective over time. One has to increase the size of their block-list almost every other day to keep the results satisfying. This was not going to be a permanent solution.

And so, as more fresh ads began to slip through, we grew apart. Most days, she had her life, and I had mine. Every now and then, I would help her with an update, or watch an episode of QI or Cats does Countdown, but that was about it. I could no longer see myself doing the night-long marathons, and her self-confidence was waning too. She would shudder every time someone mentioned 4k or UltraHD, for example. In her days, the plain simple HD was all that was needed to meet the Hollywood standard. None of this hocus-pocus.

Before she called me today, we hadn’t spoken for a week. Now as I open the door to my apartment, I wonder if we should keep it that way. Do I really want to talk to her … ever again? Hmm, she’s waiting for me, so I guess I will have to. Here goes nothing.

The chat is over. It wasn’t as bad as I’d expected. She only wanted me to sign the new Terms and Conditions. It almost ended up in an argument though, as I didn’t really want to. Once again, I was too tired to read the damn thing, and signing it without a proper read-through was just the kind of thing I knew I would regret one day, but she said it was either that or a break-up. I had no choice. It’s not just her. It’s her brother the Phone, and her niece the Smart Watch. I’m knee-deep in the marshes of their family empire. I wonder what the T&C changes were. As if it matters. My soul’s been in the devil’s hands for quite a while now, so I doubt it makes a difference anymore …