I've lost a few friends lately. Autocorrect is to blame.

Double and Triple checks before pressing 'Send' can be your best bet against laugh riots and personal goof-ups!

Indu Balachandran Updated: Sep 16, 2021 12:46:16 IST
I've lost a few friends lately. Autocorrect is to blame. Flickr

I recently expressed my respectful sympathy to a friend of mine. His father, 99, had passed away, and this is the text he got from me: ‘I’m sending you my deepest condoms.’ I was immediately unfriended and never heard from him again. It’s that evil genius who invented ‘autocorrect' that twisted the word. I am absolutely sure I typed ‘condolences’, I swear!

I remember years ago in my advertising career, we nearly lost a prestigious hotel client, because of a proofing error in a poster: ‘Our restaurant has a bra attached’. While we laughed hysterically for days, it wasn’t funny at all when all the posters for this new bar had to be reprinted. All because of a tiny typing error on a Remington.

But then came computers. And with Microsoft making steady advances with Word, their clever young techie, Dean Hachamovitch, decided he’d had enough typing ‘teh’ for the most common word in the English language. And invented a trick that would automatically correct itself to ‘the’ even if he mistyped it. And thus was born autocorrect.

So the next time, say, you inadvertently type ‘b’ instead of ‘t’ in the following message: ‘My boots are too big. Going to exchange them’; Dean’s corrective invention is designed to save you from death-by-embarrassment.

However, it soon took on a life of its own. It happened when phone texting technology got jealous of Google, which had made rapid advances with ‘autocomplete’ where it began to guess what we’re searching for, even before we thought of it. For instance one day, I declared, “This wretched cold! Let me look up common cold home remedies...” But as I typed ‘Com...’ I was taken at once to ‘Commonwealth nations geopolitical and environmental governance practices’ and within 45 minutes I became a veritable expert on this subject.

Meanwhile Dean and his team schemed faster ways to complete our thoughts and speed up our texting. “One more beer, then I’m lesbian”, a lady texted to her husband during a girls night out. Maybe that was one beer too many already, with her unsteady finger trying to type ‘leaving’. Not unlike the gym master who messaged his roommate, “Just coming out of the closet. Join you soon”. And then seconds later. “Omigod. CLASS I mean.”

Clearly, autocorrect doesn’t seem to have qualms suggesting suggestive words. My sister sent me this: “Please send me your recipe for naked potatoes”. Did she mean potatoes without their jackets? Then I realised she was referring to my signature baked potato dish. But even weirder is when my cousin texted her pal: “My kids loved your placenta. Come over for leftovers!” Perhaps her phone wasn’t familiar with polenta yet.

Sure, word and phrase completion softwares save us valuable time—a full three to four seconds—that we could be spending on other important things. But more often than not we spend 120 seconds or more apologising and correcting the corrected corrections. Because autocorrect, the little devil, gets lazy without warning. Here’s what one elderly lady messaged another, when their retirement home’s manager passed on. ‘I feel his abs even today’. Horrified at what she sent, she corrected it. ‘I’m sorry. I meant to say, I feel his asbestos even today’.

So dear Dean Hachamovitch, thank you from the bottom of our grateful hearts to the tips of our clumsy fingers for your grand invention, but you must admit your autocorrect can sometimes be such a pain. As in this message sent out by my yoga teacher to all of us recently. ‘Due to unfortunate circumcisions, there will be no yoga today’

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