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DuoLingo Owl: ”I Don’t Give A Hoot If You’re Tired, Finish Your Goddamned Lessons”

By Maliha Momtaz Oishi:

Pressing a single button is what marked my doom. Quarantine had cleared up my schedule. It was disappointing you know, the shift from the incessant partying and hustling and not cancelling plans because mom said no. What would I do with all this free time? I couldn’t succumb to the wily charms of TikTok. After minutes of pondering, naturally I decided to learn a new language. Maybe German, then I'd get to understand two lines from season three of Dark and lord my linguistic prowess over everyone – so I downloaded the app.

We constantly checked up on each other the first month, Duo said stuff like ”You’re doing great!” every time I successfully translated taxi into taxi, which really made me feel like a big girl. However, things went south when it asked me for permission to give me daily reminders to practice...and I allowed it.

I didn’t think much of a ”Looks like you missed a lesson!” at first – it sounded like it came from a place of concern. It got scary when I unlocked my phone to see not one, not two- but three unseen notifications- I never get three notifications. ”We’ll stop sending these reminders for now” – which were seemingly harmless words, conveyed with a face that screamed cold blooded murder. Afterwards, other applications of my phone began to crash and my brand new phone started to lag. ”You're going to think about me now, you piece of shit”, Duo said. I do not know how many days it has been, time is a foreign concept now. My dreams have been hijacked by a googly-eyed bird which keeps telling me to conjugate my verbs. I don’t want to learn German anymore, I just want to be free.

This is a call for help.


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