It’s me, not ChatGPT . . . at least I think so


Why should I work this week? No one works anymore, or if they show up, they bring attitude or the three stages of incompetence: Don’t care, don’t want to be here, don’t notice you standing there at my counter. (I don’t mean you, of course. Herald readers are all diligent, responsible people.)

Anyway, as an experiment with AI, and a way not to work, I thought I’d ask ChatGPT to write my column. What I specifically asked for in the query was: Write a 750-word column in the style of Randi Kreiss.

It took about two seconds, and I got a piece about the idea of detoxing ourselves from our exposure to screens and devices. Not an original idea, not a bad idea, but between you and me, I hope it wasn’t an example of how I usually write, because it was sooooo booooring.

This was the last paragraph of the pseudo-Randi column, written by ChatGPT:

“So let us embrace the digital detox not as a fleeting trend, but as a timeless reminder of our innate capacity for connection, creativity, and contemplation. Let us reclaim our time, our attention, and our humanity from the clutches of the digital realm and rediscover the beauty of life beyond the screen.”

I mean, there’s nothing wrong with the writing; it’s just so blah-blah-blah. All of which leaves me with no other choice than to abandon AI and deploy my own skills, which are both modest and flawed.

If I were going to write about the toxicity of screens and devices — and I am, now that ChatGPT gave me the idea — I would connect it specifically to our current political madness. We are bombarded 24/7 by repetitious news about the threat to our democracy by former President Donald Trump and his acolytes. Is there really anything else to talk about that carries the gravitas of a looming democracy-destroying, unhinged presidency? The Orange Man lurks behind us just as he stalked Hillary in the 2016 debates.

He is meaner than the last time around. His alleged crimes have earned him dozens of felony indictments. We can’t stand watching the coverage, and we can’t stop.

Other news outlets beat the drum about President Biden’s age and oratorical misadventures.

For a long time, I tried to see the issues from all sides. I figured that I have more in common with Trump supporters than the issues that divide us. I figured that when he fully revealed himself as an authoritarian wannabe, folks would recoil, seeing the threat to our freedoms. I wanted to stand in their shoes and see what they saw, but Trump’s singular determination to take down our democracy blots out the sun. Legitimate disagreements over immigration, the economy and taxes pale compared to his promise to dismantle the pillars of government and build camps for people he determines are unwelcome or undesirable.

There isn’t a legitimate other side when the other side is a dictatorship.

Trump must be removed from political life, and we must find ourselves again. That means removing ourselves from obsessional newscasts. Watch the candidates’ speeches for yourself, without the filters, and believe what you see. Look and listen to who Trump is. Listen to Biden.

We must retire the would-be dictator, and that means re-electing Biden. Both men are too old for the job, but Biden and his team will keep faith with the American public. The country is sound and well-connected to our friends around the world. Biden’s experience has brought us through these difficult years. The alternative is more than a flirtation with authoritarianism and institutionalized racism. Young people do not realize how quickly bellicose talk can turn into tanks rumbling down our streets.

In many homes, the TV is on. It’s always there, in the background, too loud, too repetitive, too insignificant. We all know that news shows ran out of news long ago. Most of the time they reprocess the meat of a story until it comes out like sausage, link after link, hour after hour. Is it news when a know-nothing anchor interviews a reporter who once interviewed a spokesperson who represents an insignificant staff member of a mid-level politician?

We can improve our lives by disconnecting from our devices. Voting is easy and analog. The conflation of politics and screens is wearing us down. Let the candidates speak for themselves.

Thanks, ChatGPT, for priming the pump. I just needed to say it in my own words.

Copyright 2024 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at