What I Meant to Say

So I try to illustrate each of my posts. I do this because in the days when the internet was young I often found blogs during image searches. I’ve grown more cautious over the years, regarding copyright. I try to stick to the “fair use doctrine”—and that’s what it’s called, a doctrine—or images I “own.” In the latter case it often means searching WordPress for a picture I’ve posted before. Since nobody has time to name all their photos, I use the assigned DSCN or IMG nomenclatures. There aren’t so many that a search won’t turn up an image in my library. Thing is, WordPress likes to anticipate what I’m looking for. What’s more, it “autocorrects” after I’ve begun scrolling through everything. DSCN becomes “disc” in its addled electronic brain, and IMG becomes “OMG.” Naturally, the image you’re seeking can’t be found until you manually correct autocorrect.

OMG has become very common shorthand these days. Growing up evangelical, there was a debate whether “o my God” was swearing or not. Those who like to hedge their eternal bets argued that this was taking the Lord’s name in vain, thereby breaking one of the big ten. This was to be avoided at all costs. Those with a little less fear (or perhaps a bit more courage) argued that “God” wasn’t “the Lord’s name.” God is a generic word and can refer to any deity, except, of course, for the fact that there is only one God. This led straight back to the conundrum. Exegetes tell us that technically this commandment isn’t about saying the deity’s name, but rather it’s a prohibition against using said name when you don’t intend to do what you say you’ll do. In other words, lying.

It’s truly one of the signs that evangelicalism has evolved that the world’s best known liar is unstintingly supported by this camp. When I was a kid, saying, well, OMG, could get your mouth washed out with soap. Lying could lead to other forms of corporal punishment, such as being, in the biblical parlance, smitten. Now it gets you elected to the highest office in the land and supported by all those very people who won’t spell out OMG, even when they’re busy cutting you off in traffic with their Jesus fishes flashing in the sun. When I was a kid presidents would step down rather than go through the humiliation of being shown a liar in the face of the world. Times have changed. And I have no idea how to illustrate such a post as this. What comes up when I search OMG?

Correct Auto

I’ve tried turning it off, but it sometimes doesn’t work.  Every time there’s a system update (about every other hour, now) the new system reloads autocorrect.  True, my weary fingers are glad for the help when they just can’t spell hypocoristic, but it does seem that autocorrect, although the results are often funny, has no sense of humor.  As a writer I often use ironic misspellings.  I sometimes have my irony interpreted as ignorance, but if writers aren’t misunderstood they’re not doing their jobs, I suppose.  The thing that gets to me is that those who program autocorrect—although sometimes they’re right—can’t let us express ourselves as we wish.  The other day I wrote something with  a deliberate misspelling.  When I hit the “post” button I realized I’d been autocorrected to a nonsense word in the context.  I thought I’d turned autocorrect off.

Now don’t get me wrong—I’m not the world’s greatest speller.  Sometimes I use words with the slightly wrong connotation.  My choices, however, are generally deliberate.  Unless my device has selected them, that  is.  I suspect that autocorrect is appreciated by those who type on tiny screens.  The affluent, I notice, wear iWatches.  I wonder if they carry tiny people in their pockets whose thumbs can fly across such minuscule surfaces.  “No,” someone told me, “it has voice recognition technology.”  I was reminded of some embarrassing mispronunciations I’ve made.  In seminary the homiletics professor had an individual session with me.  “Given your educational background,” he told me, “you don’t mispronounce many words.”  Oh, but I do.  I just save them for the most embarrassing situations.

My inner critic’s a pretty active guy for his age.  He doesn’t need autocorrect to make me realize how little I know.  That’s the thing about technocrats, though.  They like to correct us based on the most common combinations of these letters.  Sometimes I glance back at something I wrote and find a word I don’t even know replacing something that was, in fact, correctly typed in the first place.  I write in a program called Scrivener.  My Mac’s too old to run Word, and Pages isn’t bad, but it doesn’t allow for the complex architecture of my thoughts (and I’m no architect; I can’t even spell it).  In other words, I have to turn autocorrect off not only on my device, but also in the individual applications I run.  But then there are days when verisimilitude just won’t flow the way it should without it.