Conquering techie universe

Published 4:50 pm Friday, October 14, 2011

“Technology… brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other.” — Carrie P. Snow

The constantly evolving world of technology has been in the news lately and, therefore, on my mind. Believe me, this is a rare subject for me to dwell upon — I barely know how to activate my television set; if I punch “POWER” on the click-click and nothing happens, I’m lost.

But I’ve been thinking about my new semi-skill at texting, marveling at the technological advances just in the last 5 or 6 years. I’m trying really hard to keep up. As writer Stewart Brand observed, “Once a new technology rolls over you, if you’re not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road.” I’m not ready to be smushed yet.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

So every now and then I text on my nifty, mesmerizing cell phone — mostly to family members — and usually I get it right. My problem is with the phone’s “auto-correct” feature.

If, for example, I’m trying to tell my granddaughter that the weather has taken a dip and I’m (brrrrr!) freezing, the message is likely to auto-correct and tell her I’m breeding. Not good. The phone doesn’t recognize “brrrr,” obviously, and thinks “breeding” is probably what I meant. Ha ha. Guess again. I know there’s a way to get rid of auto-correct, but of course I don’t have a clue.

Hunting for auto-corrected text messages listed online, I came across the following, which had me howling:

(1)   Are you coming home soon? I’m Hindu. Whoops! I meant hungry. I’m still a Christian.

(2)   From Coffeehouse: Hey, all. We’ll be closed Saturday. Sorry for the incontinence.

(3)   Friend says: Still not sleeping well?

Second friend responds: No, I need vacation. Still have weeks worth of pot.

First friend types: ???

Second friend: Oh, shoot. I mean PTO – paid time off.

(4)   Friend #1: I’ll post your pics on Facebook. You really look affordable.

Friend #2: Excuse me?

Friend #1: HELP! I meant adorable. I hate this phone!

Even without auto-correct, texting mistakes happen all the time, like the fellow who got a text message from somebody (???) that said, “Sweetie, unless you object, I’m going to double our donation to the arts group. Are you OK with this?” The recipient-by-mistake, a stranger, texted back, “Yes.” How bad is that? Bet there was a heated discussion at Sweetie’s house during supper.

My friend Jane told me the other day about a lady in a nearby town who texted regrets to a shower. She couldn’t attend because that was her day to participate in a prison ministry, but unfortunately she sent the message to the wrong person. Imagine the recipient’s face when she read: “Sorry I can’t be there. I will be @prison.”

I must admit, I’ve mistakenly hit “Reply All” on occasion when I thought I was responding only to one person in confidence. Bad! Only took doing that a couple of times to cause me to be much more careful. The first time I didn’t realize I’d done it, calling one of the recipients of my accidental “Reply All” a complete idiot. The word got back fast, and that friendship (surprise!) is still chilly.

The second time, I hit “Send” and realized what I’d done immediately. As Wired magazine describes it, “the brief period between hitting ‘Send’ and realizing you’ve messaged the wrong person should be called the ‘ohnosecond’.” Yep, cyber wings take your words straight across the air waves, and there’s nothing you can do. No battery ripping. No computer bashing. No phone jamming. Nothing can stop it now.

I’ve learned my lesson. Now I take my time, carefully select the receiver of my message, check the message, remembering to be nice (just in case), and, only then, send.

Technology is not going to make a pimp out of me. Umm… that should be wimp.