When texting first became popular, there was a variation of comment that people would make.
Adults who grew up without texting saw those “u’s” and “lol’s” and the “r u’s” and “cya’s,” and they rolled their eyes.
These fools, they would yell with fists skyward. They are ruining the English language.
And they worried.
Will future generations write books in this shallow shorthand? Will they know how to spell at all? What kind of depraved culture will be built off single-letter words?
At the time I laughed, as I’m wont to do, at both the texters and at their critics.
I made the obvious joke: Ooooh, what are you going to do with all that extra time now that you don’t have to write out “you?”
And I vowed to never be among the worst of the critics — those who seemed to feel superior to the shift in technology and who were proudly uninterested in the new. Those who defiantly held fast to their typewriters even though typewriters were once too much technology for some to handle.
I will always keep up, I told myself. I will always be interested in the latest. I will never make fun of those who create and embrace change.
Furthermore, I will learn the program. I will find out why it’s useful. I will run toward the advancement.
It was a lie, of course, and a very easy thing to say to myself in my 20s and 30s.
I failed to take into consideration key things like comfort. Never once did I consider contentment. Nor did I think about the aging process itself and how each year that we live, we see more and more of what matters and become naturally unimpressed by the things with shine.
I remembered all this recently.
About two weeks ago I turned off “autocorrect” everywhere that I could.
No thank you, I told Siri. I’ll be correcting my own words from now on, you awful piece of technology
My decision to do this was a long time coming.
I was tired of perfectly spelled words being corrected and rewritten to other words that made my sentences nonsensical.
I was sick of not being able to make a joke employing dialect. Or to take shorthand notes during a phone interview, during which actual time-savers like “ppl” and “abt” got automatically changed so quotes were no longer recognizable.
And I no longer wanted to have to copy edit every throwaway remark I made in text or on Gchat.
How many times had I cursed autocorrect after re-reading the text I just sent? How many times had my friends?
The best? Obvious typos sometimes went uncorrected.
You think maybe “wahtevert” was supposed to be “whatever,” iPhone?
And why can’t you learn who I am? You are artificial intelligence and that should mean something. Back in my day, assistants learned about their boss’ habits and tendencies and adapted.
People call these “first-world problems.”
“First-world problems” being the little things — the hiccups in our lives that cause momentary inconvenience or frustration, that put a seam in our day where one didn’t exist before.
They usually involve smartphones or Starbucks or anything automated or wonderful. They happen right as we need the system to work in our favor, to be on our side.
First-world problems are mere pinpricks when compared with the challenges in other worlds, where food is scarce, shelter is meager and safety is not a reasonable expectation for anyone to have when there is so much need.
But I hate the phrase.
To me, “first-world problems” is chucklesome but also somehow preachy. It’s dismissive of progress, and it assumes the person with the problem is not appreciative to live in this time and with these amenities.
I fully appreciate the benefits of autocorrect.
Especially now that it’s off and I can see how many words I’ve been mistyping all these years, how much I’d been relying on autocorrect to upper-case the words at the beginning of sentences, how much I needed it to insert apostrophes.
I had become the thing my anti-texting elders had worried about. I had evolved into a sloppy creature who couldn’t be bothered to capitalize her own pronoun and who let machines handle her contractions.
The obvious solution would be to turn the thing back on. To let the machine do its thing. To go forth with the future.
But I’m holding fast to my typewriter.
This is where I’m drawing the loin.
I mean, line.