The Irony of Autocorrect

Please get your right hand ready, and indulge me in a little “show of hands” survey.

All right. Show of hands.

  • How many of you have a cell phone? That’s all of you.
  • When you are messaging or posting, how many of you have a phone that uses an “Autocorrect” feature to correct words in your post? Again, all of you.
  • How many of you LOVE Autocorrect? Two of you, out of several hundred.
  • Okay, please play close attention to this one. How many of you find that Autocorrect fixes true spelling errors and saves you from looking foolish more often than it changes your correct spelling to something not even close, making you look like a complete idiot? Only three of you, and those three didn’t understand the question.
  • How many of you who dislike Autocorrect know how to turn it off? Four of you.
  • How many of you have a phone that WON’T LET you turn Autocorrect off? 65% of you.
  • How many of you are getting REALLY ANNOYED having to raise your hand to participate in a survey in which no one can actually SEE your hand? All of you. Okay fine. Enough.

Thank you for your kind cooperation. I think we have enough to go on here.

Autocorrect is enabled by default (and often without an option to disable) on all smartphones, regardless of manufacturer, operating system, or version. And pretty much everybody hates it.

Does that strike you as odd? It does me.

I like that it throws apostrophes in contractions like won’t and can’t, and does so correctly the vast majority of the time. But with spelling, more often than not, it changes the word I intended into something completely wrong.

>  Can you imagine using a phone that “corrects” the phone number you dialed to one that’s completely different?

>  Can you imagine using a television remote that, when you enter a channel number, takes you to a completely different channel than the one you intended?

>  Can you imagine using a messaging app that replaces the name and number of the person you are trying to text to with some other random contact in your contact list?

>  Can you imagine using a GPS which randomly “corrects” the destination you put in to someplace completely different?

OF COURSE NOT!!

You wouldn’t put up with that kind of nonsense in any other device for two minutes.

Most people LOVE their smartphones. You can tell because most of the time, they are all that people are looking at.

But most people HATE Autocorrect. Hate it!

If Autocorrect were an add-on product you could buy off the shelf, would you purchase it?
OF COURSE NOT! Nobody would.

Autocorrect is a feature that’s almost universally despised.

  • If it were a movie, it would be a box office bomb.
  • If it were a record, it wouldn’t make the top 10,000.
  • If it were a book, it would be a New York Times “worstseller.”
  • If it were a car, it would be a Yugo.
  • If it were your personal assistant, you would apologetically tell it that you are going to be moving in some new directions, it would probably be a better “fit” for someone else, and encourage it to clean out its desk and “pursue other opportunities.” You’d fire it.

Autocorrect is:

  • Unnecessary
  • Incompetent
  • Counter-productive
  • Intrusive
  • Aggressive
  • Persistent in its erroneousness
  • Frustrating
  • A waste of time (the time it takes you to correct the autocorrected word)
  • A source of embarrassment, whose liabilities outweigh its benefits

If Autocorrect were a girlfriend or boyfriend, you would tell it, “We need to talk. I think it’s time we start seeing other people.”

If what I’ve said is true (and I think we can ALL agree that it is), then how in the world could such an incredibly defective product become the industry standard in an industry in which imprecision is not tolerated and accuracy is paramount? It’s a head-scratcher, for sure.

I see only three possibilities.

  1. Someone wrote the program and this little company’s one and only salesman “made a whale of a sale.” Two, actually. Because both the Android and iOS Autocorrect products are equally lousy.
  2. The mob or the government owns it, and requires it to be in every smartphone. If it’s not, they’ll “make ‘em an offer they can’t refuse.”
  3. It’s part of a conspiracy – a subterfuge – to clandestinely undermine the English language to the point that it’s nearly unrecognizable. And to increase the stress level on smartphone users so that some foreign power can come in and pry the smartphones from between people’s ears and shoulders, straighten out their necks, and make them their underlings.

I think the third possibility is probably the most likely. Wouldn’t take much to sneak up on us. We’d never see it coming. Too busy correcting auto-corrected words.

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