Damn You Autocorrect!

I was asleep and didn’t hear the cell phone ringing. I noticed the call only the morning after, and a text message from the same (unknown) number: “I hate when you do like that!”. Geez, who was upset with me? It took me a couple of seconds for realizing that 1) receiving a message like that from someone who is not into my contact list it is quite unlikely for me, 2) the only person who is actually allowed to be upset with me is my girlfriend, 3) she would probably yell at me, rather than texting, and 4) that was not her phone number. Therefore, I kindly answered the message for letting know the person he/she had texted the wrong number.

Obviously, the person got the wrong number and probably saved it in the contact list under the name of someone else, but that’s not the only type of error people make with a little help of their smartphones.

Stories of errors in texting are abundant over the Internet, there is also a nice collection of embarassing sentences written with the unwanted contribution of auto correct, including a reference to “bread cancer” awareness, attending a “fart class”, or asking if “anus homework” were assigned. You name it.

Auto correct is democratic: messes up both casual communication with your buddy (not big deal) and the official communication of companies, government, or press (big deal indeed). A slip in a tweet posted from the Vatican’s official twitter channel years ago made me think about how common is becoming to encounter word substitutions in many publications either digital and in print. When the race is fast, as it happens with digital publishing, is proofreading optional?

I suspect the habit to the unwanted consequences of this type of automation is making us more tolerant to writing errors in everyday life, but official communication will pay a very high price for such inaccuracy. It is about time to develop better auto correct strategies or to give up auto correct for good.