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The Mystery of Autocorrect

I understand how lots of things work in a practical, technological sense. I can bone a chicken, replace a faucet washer, and rig a device that will keep the dogs from opening the screen door. I was raised to be “handy,” and I’m proud of that.


I do not understand how computer-y, phone-y kinds of things work. I am as surprised and delighted as a child that my phone can figure out where I am and tell me how to find coffee, and that my computer makes it possible for me to write something like this, and then put it somewhere for universal reading. (Well, honestly, about 200 people will read it, but theoretically everyone could read it if they had access to a computer and the Internet). I’m not proud of my ignorance, and I try to understand the workings behind the magic; the thing is that life is short, and I tend to focus more on things that result in a paycheck or a calm, relatively happy family life.


The most baffling of all digital voodoo in my life is the Auto Correct on my iPhone. I know I can turn it off if it annoys me, but I have come to count on the ability to type “theres” and end up with “there’s” without a thought. It also capitalizes many of the things that require capitalization, and sometimes corrects my spelling…correctly. It is this last category, though (which I think is properly labeled “Auto Fill”) where the issues arise. For some reason, the brain in the phone makes changes so bizarre and sometimes so profane that I can’t imagine the rubric governing its operation. Is there a rubric? If there is, how did It determine that instead of the fairly common “mmkay” in response to a text message, I really meant to say “knish?!” Are there people more likely, statistically, to be texting about Jewish delicacies than writing “mmkay” as a slang-y form of assent? I think not.


My favorite, shocking as it was at the time, makes me think that Auto Correct/Auto Fill is not a program, but a group of adolescent male hackers in a bunker filled with Cheetos and Ripple.  It also made me a believer in the hilarious postings on “Damn You, Auto Correct.” Until it actually happened to me, I suspected that they were all invented by, well, a group of adolescent male hackers in a bunker filled with Cheetos and Ripple. I am now a believer.


A couple of weeks ago, my son texted me to say that he needed a ride home. I sent this response:


“Daddy on his way to fuck you up by ATM machine on Albert right now.”


I am grateful that my son is fourteen and not nine. I am also happy that we all happen to possess a fine sense of humor, and find the error hilarious. I can’t help wondering, though, in what universe “fuck” is the most likely word choice in this context? Why is it even an option for Auto Fill? Shouldn’t the default be that one is not swearing?


Maybe Auto Correct was designed by potty-mouthed Jewish deli cooks. I’m on the case.


About imagineannie

I feel like I'm fifteen - does that count? I'm lots of things, I get paid to be the Managing Editor for a local news publication, and I love my job. I am also inordinately fond of reading, animals (I have four), elephants, owls, hedgehogs writing, tramping in the woods, cooking India, Ireland, England, avocado toast, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter, Little Women, Fun Home, Lumber Janes, Fangirl, magic, Neil Gaiman, Jane Austen, YA books, not YA books, classical music, Salinger (OMG SALINGER), Brahms, key lime pie, indie music, podcasts, sleeping in, road trips, marmalade, museums, bookstores, the Oxford comma, BBC, The Miss Fisher Mysteries, birdwatching, seashells, kombucha, and stickers. Not a huge fan of chewing gum, jazz, trucker hats or dystopian and/or post-apolcalyptic fiction (but I'll try anything).

2 responses »

  1. hahaha that’s awesome! We’ve had some of those moments. My favorite autocorrect was on my 3G, which would correct virtually anything that started in “wh” to Whig. Because so many people are into the politics of the American Revolution? I was always texting about the Whigs… it was pretty confusing.

    • That’s pretty funny. Maybe each phone’s autocorrect has a unique personality – mine is a fan of swearing and deli food, and yours majored in World History?


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