Some time ago I downloaded Duolingo for fun, for the sole purpose of learning how to sass my mum in her mother tongue of Indonesian. I was going to uninstall it after about a week, but it’s been 236 days now and my life is ruled by a bastard owl. This is my story.

For those unacquainted with the aforementioned owl, his name is Duo and he’s the official mascot of the language learning app. At first, one might describe Duo as adorable, harmless, sweet. But no, dear reader, he is none of these things. Duo is a little shit, hellbent on ruining your life. Duo demands that you learn at least three lessons a day, otherwise he’ll throw a tanty. And if you don’t keep your place in the Top 45 on the weekly leaderboard, you’re cooked. Lose your streak? Duo will end you.

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but when I first got the app I was on absolute fire. Mum and Dad still speak Indo to me so my listening and comprehension skills are near perfection. Like I can’t catch every word of a government presser, but if Mum’s ragging on someone over the phone, I can so get in on the goss. My speaking skills on the other hand suck shit. So I completed the first couple of lessons with ease and pushed my way to the top of the leaderboard. Duo loved me and I loved Duo. Then things got harder, my motivation plummeted, and I grew tired of the green owl. Then the notifications started.

It was all very innocent at first, like “Hey, have you got a spare coupla minutes to learn some phrases?” and “Steff, it’s Duolingo time!” But as more days passed, Duo grew restless. I don’t know if this is a universal thing but Duo will shoot me a notification every hour, every day from 7.30pm onwards. And he doesn’t stop. Not until I’ve logged the fuck on. The owl has no boundaries.

Let me live, Duo. GOD.

In case the notifications weren’t enough, he also sends emails. And progress reports. And more emails about “Sad Duo” if you miss days of practise. It never ends! I know I should just delete the app and regain power of my life, but I’m deathly afraid of what Duo will do to me.

This is what happens when you lose your streak.

Hwat hte fukc?

The Duolingo owl is specifically designed to guilt you into spending at least 10 to 15 minutes a day learning a language via some useful and completely useless phrases. For example: “kucing itu terbang” translates to “that cat is flying”. When am I ever going to say that? Why am I filling my brain with it? It’s like Duo is actually fucking with you. The snarky owl even sends you passive-aggressive messages between lessons. I shit you not I once received, “Go on, keep scrolling social media. Let’s see how much Indonesian that can teach you.” I hate the fucking owl. But what I hate more is that the whole pushy guilt-tripping thing WORKS. It’s not even about learning Indo anymore, I just don’t want to give Duo the satisfaction of beating me. So I keep on completing lessons… and, well, I’m actually learning a lot. It’s lovely being able to string together sentences to my parents and seeing their pleasantly surprised reactions, BUT I STILL HATE THE OWL. How long will this continue? I don’t know, but I have every intention of outliving Duolingo owl. Only then will I know peace.

As an aside, I’ve also invested a considerable amount of hours into Animal Crossing: New Horizons. One of the characters is an owl named Blathers. He runs the museum. I hate Blathers. Not for any reason to do with Animal Crossing. I’ve just come to realise that I don’t like owls anymore. Fucking Duo.

Anyway, do you guys want to see what Hell looks like?

Tell me he’s not a psychopath. TELL ME.

Image: Duolingo