The Little Irritations of Life #4: AutoCorrect

I wage a perpetual running war with the AutoCorrect facilities on my PC.  It started with Microsoft Office Assistant’s Clippy––the irritatingly chirpy paperclip character who appeared on Microsoft products from Office 97 to Office 2003.

I am forever being queried on my spelling, my grammar, even my indentation.  How much time have I wasted patiently recorrecting the AutoCorrect to the text I had originally entered in the first place?  Thankfully, I have now found how to turn off this facility in Word, despite its occasional attempts to resurrect itself.

But now it is Amazon’s turn.  Amazon are forever automatically revising my search terms in their browsers.  I don’t know whether they think this will entice me to buy items I never previously knew that I wanted?  Of course, I have found another work-around.  Putting my search terms inside inverted commas seems to beat the AutoCorrect.

However, there is something more fundamental to all this than just a moment’s exasperation at the continuing rise of the machine.  Humans need to make mistakes.  Sometimes we need to experience actual physical discomfort, or mortifying embarrassment, or severe reprimand for our errors, so that we learn not to make them again.  It is a simple process of evolutionary biology.  The AutoCorrect facility is denying us this fundamental stage in our development.

Many advances along the evolutionary path have been as a result of ‘happy mistakes’––I am putting this in inverted commas just in case AutoCorrect changes it to ‘hippy moustaches’, which would have made my argument seem very confusing.  These ‘happy mistakes’ have included missing links such as Archaeopteryx; have seen creatures––like the omnipotent Mudskipper––first crawl onto the land; have seen beasts take to the skies.

Who knows where our mistakes might take us next.

© Simon Turner-Tree; mudskipper image © Charles Lam


Simon Turner-Tree is never scared of making a mistake.

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