Is autocorrect out to get me?


By Travis Mayfield


I’ve always been a terrible speller.

In school teachers used to warn me if I wasn’t careful that fault would get me into trouble.

I didn’t believe them.

Now I do.

As a child spelling lessons seemed pointless.

“Why do I need to memorize the spellings of words when I have a dictionary?” I used to ask.

Then along came spell-check and I gave up any effort at spelling things correctly.

“Spell-check always has my back,” I’d tell people.

Now we have the iPhone and autocorrect.

At first I thought it was fantastic.

But combine my poor spelling with the iPhone touchscreen keypad and my iPhone began autocorrecting to things I didn’t want to say.

Ahhh’ (in positive recognition of something) became ‘Shhh,’ in a text message to my sister.  

Jog’  became ‘job,’ in an instant message to my workout partner.

It’s clearly not just me.

“Autocorrect keeps changing ‘freebies’ to ‘Frisbees’ – it’s frustrating,” said digital media producer Vienna Catalani just yesterday. 

You can see the humor, I certainly did (and so do the folks at this fantastic blog). 

My good humor changed however after replying to an email from my boss’s boss’s boss.

One handed I tried to type, ‘excitement!

It was to be a single word response expressing well, excitement over the idea being proposed.
Instead (and without my knowing it) autocorrect made a correction to my attempt at spelling ‘excitement.’

Misspelled ‘Exctement!’ became ‘Excrement!’ and I hit send.

It was only as that email slid down my iPhone screen as it sent did I see that word.

In that split second my future employment security flashed before my eyes.

“I am so fired,” I thought.

But as I hurriedly scrambled to send a follow-up apology email I saw a beacon of hope.

My iPhone service indicator suddenly said ‘searching’ and my Wi-Fi bars were empty.

Faster than I can explain I thumbed into my email outbox and sure enough there it was, that single word email just sitting there unsent.

Still holding my breath I hit the delete and watched as that email disappeared into space.

For the first time in my life I thanked the gods of spotty mobile phone coverage that I was without.

So after all of that you’d think I might have learned my lesson.  You’d think I’d be more careful relying on spell-check and autocorrect.

You’d think that. 

But you’d be wrong.

In commenting on a friend’s Facebook post the other day I thought I’d typed ‘WAZZU.’

What appeared, unchecked by me and posted on his wall?

“I always call it ‘sassy’ instead of calling it W-S-U.”

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