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I am not a technophobe.
I need no convincing that technology makes many aspects of our lives much easier and though I’ve been known on occasion to come late to technology - for a couple of years I was convinced that cellphones were nothing more than a passing fad - I DO eventually come around. I do. I find technology intuitive. I quickly become one of those people who can’t imagine life without it.
That being said, for several months now I’ve been at war with my phone’s cleverness. Against my wishes, against any explicit instructions, and in spite of my very best efforts to override my phone’s decision making, it has decided on a small but meaningful autocorrect change which is fundamentally changing my text communication.
Every time I type the word ‘can,’ my phone changes it to ‘can’t.’
I’m aware that in the grand scheme of autocorrect fails, this mightn’t seem all that significant. I Googled some extreme examples of people whose messages have been completely transformed by the supposed smartness of their smartphones, and some of the texts certainly leave you wondering if technology is indeed a force for good.
Instead of asking if his partner was keen to eat chicken fajitas for dinner, autocorrect meant someone called Luke asked about eating chicken vaginas, instead. Chicken vaginas? For dinner? Hmm. I think I’ll stick with drumsticks, thanks.
In another exchange, a dad asked his family chat who had a spare key to the back door.
“Grandpa died” replied Mum. Grandpa DIED?! Oh my god! Mum! That’s awful! But what a strangly blunt way to share the sad news. Sorry. Grandpa DOES, clarified Mum. Grandpa DOES. Autocorrect strikes again.
My autocorrect drama pales in comparison. But just pause for a moment, and imagine how much the addition of an apostrophe and a letter changes the intention of my communication.
Jack, can you get some milk from the dairy on the way home?
“Of course I can’t”
Jack, can you please collect me from the airport?
“Yes, I can’t.”
Have you confirmed whether those two Cabinet Ministers will be interviewed on Sunday?
“They can’t do it. They need to be finished and out the door by 9.30 so they can’t make their party hui.”
It’s been months. I tried turning autocorrect off and on. I tried various help forums. Sometimes I catch it. I thumb back through my message and delete out the superfluous characters. Sometimes I don’t. I’m at the point where I’’m starting to wonder what it means that my phone always defaults to can’t instead of can. Does it mean I’m a negative person? Am I glass half-empty rather than half-full? A can’t-do, rather than a can-do?
I can’t only hope that my phone can’t relearn that every time I say can’t I actually mean can’t. No. Hang on. Every time I say can’t I mean can’t. Wait. Every time I say C-A-N, I mean can’t.
Can’t you understand my frustration?