Sunday, February 6, 2011
Autocorrect, Autoasking For It
To use something called "Autocorrect" is to challenge the Gods to humiliate you. The divine ones reserve perfection for themselves, and are quick to punish lowly humans who aspire to that lofty state. This means every time you text someone your perfect, autocorrected message, you run the risk of offending the Gods. I know, technology is supposed to make life simpler, but it is also an area where the law of unintended consequences is most rigidly enforced.
Compare "Autocorrect" to the humility of "Spell-check". Spell-check won't catch you every time you fall. For instance, if you happen to type "exotic sex" when you meant "exotic sects", you're on your own, pal. But it won't actively trip you. Not so with autocorrect. This is bad news for the millions of us that have some form of autocorrection as a built-in feature on our electronic devices. It's a cosmic "kick-me" sign we blithely tape to our own backs. The Gods are only too happy to oblige. And their wrath can be terrible.
Errors introduced into messages are so numerous, devastating, and hilarious that there is even a website dedicated to them. The site is a schadenfreude smorgasboard. Who says words don't have consequences?
It's bad enough that this program will put words in your mouth. What's deadly is a tendency to put the kind of word there that inspired my 8th grade choir teacher to devastate a class clown with the observation "I wouldn't have in my hand what you just had in your mouth".
Things can go sideways fast when you're up against divine jealousy. With typical fiendishness, the dissed deities make the instrument of your sin the instrument of your punishment. One minute you're texting your boss that you'll be late for work, and suddenly the two of you are talking with acute embarrassment about scatological terms that theoretically neither of you should have the vocabulary for. It's as if Tourette's Syndrome somehow jumped the gap between man and machine, and went viral on the internet.
So I'm trying to keep my head down. Like the careful Navajo who include a tiny flaw somewhere in their intricately woven rugs to ward off offense to the supernatural, I have a plan. My idea is a computer program that automatically includes a transposed pair of letters, a misused hyphen or an errant apostrophe. This, in theory, inoculates the user against innocently inviting wrath from above. When you find some small error, some warped syntax, some flawed logic in my work, don't automatically put it down to sloppiness or stupidity. It may be a typo, or it may be an act of deliberate humility by one who is all too aware of human frailty, and gives the Gods hteir due.