Ducking Autocorrect

I used to work for a man who, I once thought, was missing his pinky fingers. none of his emails used capital letters. all his sentences started in the lower case. it was disconcerting to a grammar nerd like me. but he was the boss, so i got used to it, as did everyone else in the office.

I now realize that this email affectation was a power trip, although likely an unconscious one. It was boss-man saying he was too busy and important to put the effort into reaching way over to the Shift key, so we, the peons receiving his emails, had to expend our less-valuable effort to mentally put the capitals where he hadn’t. We did more work, he did less. Today we’d call his behavior a micro-agression. Back then, we just called it email.

Lazy writing, like mumbling, is a power play. And technology gives micro-despots even more ways to execute this power.

Take, for example, autocorrect. If you write a message that is improperly or incompletely autocorrected, and you don’t correct the errors before sending the note, you are telling the recipient that your time is so valuable you can’t be bothered to read and edit your text before you press Send. It’s on them, you’re saying, to make the mental leaps to correct the wrong words for the right.

Another example: Voice recognition software. It may be magical that your phone can transcribe your speech into a good approximation of what you meant to say, but unless the transcription errors are nonexistent or very minor, the effort for the receiver to decipher an incorrect voice transcription can be extremely high. A reader might have to read the message out loud while listening to themselves speak, to try to figure out what those particular phonemes actually mean. It’s a lot of work.

So the correct thing to do is to check your text for errors before you press Send. Sure, in a life-or-death situation, texting typos are forgiven. Likewise, you allow typos from someone who is using voice recognition while doing something critical with their eyes and hands, like driving (although there’s a whole different discussion to have about that). Come to think of it, in almost any situation, it’s really not worth it to get upset when you receive a typo in a message. You are bigger than that.

But for the sender, the right thing to do is to put some effort into your message. You’re asking someone to pay attention to you. The least you can do is hold up your end of the conversation.