….. you’re creeping me out with your helpful auto-responses to my email. Here, a friend and I were sharing job insecurity stories and Google picked up on what sounded like plan-making and offered three ways I might respond.
Some suggestions for you, Google:
Please don’t assume we’ve gotten so lazy we can’t formulate responses on our own.
Please refrain from reading my emails—now not even pretending that you’re not.
Please stop getting your helpfulness all over everyone, as Anne Lamott would say.
Oh Spellcheck and your even pushier cousin Autocorrect. You two are bullies, replacing your words with mine. Spellcheck, you unhelpfully underline words with that jaggedy (oh I guess you think jaggedy isn’t a real thing when it’s totally understood by absolutely everyone) red squiggle. So judgy (also not a word, per you) and wrong-headed—I did not mean “jigged” or “judger.” Autocorrect, you just straight up make changes and if I don’t reread what I’ve written, I’ll have to send one of those *corrections, which are annoying to me and the recipient (green underline here, why?). Eight additional bad things about you two:
That bad-grammar jaggedy (sigh) line doesn’t help at all, forcing me to try “that” and then “which” and then commas inserted all over the place and when none of that works, recasting my sentence entirely.
Can you be a better guesser when it comes to your suggestions? “Reowned” is not at all what I meant when I misspelled “reknowned.” And now I’m going to have to go with “esteemed” not because it’s a better word but because I know how to spell it.
How do you spell reknowned (as in “world reknowned” bass fisherman?) Not one of my things, I just want to know this.
Sometimes I use French words, not because I’m pretentious but because…I don’t have to explain myself to you, just be OK with it, OK?
Sometimes writers like a two-word sentence. To emphasize. To focus the reader. We do not want them underlined.
I don’t like alt spellings for common names (Hey, D’iane) anymore than you do, but it seems really judgy to call them out as wrong.
Hah! In that last one, I misused the word “anymore” (s/b any more) and you didn’t catch it!
Standing in line to not have someone help you. That’s what I feel like, Shop Rite and American Airlines, at your self-service check-outs and kiosks. Why call it service at all, why not just “self” as there is no service now is there? I am also looking at you clunky SAAS platforms that Time Inc. uses so it know longer needs to employ actual service providers like HR, IT and payroll employees, and that don’t talk to each other so you have to bounce among them inputting the same data all over the place. Even worse, they don’t change the error messages from alerts such as “cell value does not match data field” — which might more helpfully be translated as “use all four numbers to enter year of birth.”
“When you sense that a lull in the conversation is coming, you can shift your attention from the people in the room to the world you can find on your phone…You can put your attention wherever you want it to be. You can always be heard. You never have to be bored,” From the NY Times article, “Stop Googling, Let’s Talk.”
We see families at restaurants or even — if we’re honest —in our own living rooms lost to their own devices. In each others’ company but communing with others: texting, posting, Instagarmming. The Times laments the rising generation and its inability to converse. But it’s just as prevalent among my generation and in the company of my own husband. He needs to know something that, in his mind, will add to the conversation, bringing up a relevant fact or YouTube clip. But it’s distracting and even the kids hate it: “Stop Googling,” they say.
I was going to write about “why you hate work,” a much shared NY Times article about how post-recessionary downsizing and “always on” technology conspire to make American employees feel anxious on a Sunday morning about the workweek to come, even while they’re still in their jammies reading about why they’re anxious about the workweek to come.
I like my job. A lot. But I still feel a vague unease about returning to Monday’s onslaught of Replicon approvals (don’t ask), meeting invitations (never has the word “invitation” been so euphemistically used) and “touch bases,” “check ins,” and other super casual ways others have of assessing your progress. The deadline is EOD, no COB, no can we have a peek at 3 or 2 or 1? Are we aligned? Can we find another editor/designer/warm body to work on it? All of which means: why aren’t you done yet?
So now I’m complaining (victim much?) but the real problem is a self-imposed sense of obligation. I can’t stand to have a library book overdue, let alone a deadline blown or a payment missed. I also feel obliged to do something about the arugula rotting in the fridge (“I should eat that”) and the clothes left in the dryer overnight, settling into unsmoothable wrinkles while I sleep.
Or don’t sleep, worrying about salad greens and rumpled sheets and my career and the house we just bought.
I am “much obliged,” a nicety that I think means “thank you.” But the curse or cross it imposes — I allow it to impose — results in my rising from my bed at 4 to blog, but not before pulling all that laundry out of the dryer. Next up: I’ll prepare a breakfast salad, if only to use up that arugula.
And now I can put a name to the habit of skimming through something that has enough buzz that I pretend I know something about it: faking cultural literacy. Bitcoins. Twitter. Lots of stuff having to do with content marketing, which is what I actually do in life. And now I also know plenty of people ingest a headline, get the gist of content, whatever it is, and simply stop reading: too long, didn’t read. I’ll keep this short, for that reason.
Abandoned blogs, unused twitter accounts (@dianedico, for one), once-loved-now-reviled myspace pages, aol accounts that got replaced with hotmail accounts that got replaced with gmail accounts. And that’s not even counting the Facebook pages established for people who either got a real life or died.
Thinking about an article in the Sunday Styles section about the breathless, grammatically suspect way women — let’s insert “of a certain age” here —adopt the girl-speak of the internet. Yay! Adorbs! Awks! Yikes! Hot! Um…no. Um..what? Part of this is expedience. There are so many conversations spinning across social channels and I’m not even including Twitter here because I don’t tweet (never, ever follow @dianedico unless you like silence, in which case do). If we feel we must drop a comment into one of them, even while a dozen others seem to be making the same demand, we use the fewest number of words to express our wholehearted enthusiasm. Nothing is really said other than “I noticed the photo you posted and because we’re friends or ‘friends’ I need to respond with something more than ‘like.'” But the way it’s said tends to sound like the babble of a middle school corridor between classes: #Adorbs!
Is it expedience or is it that teenagers created online language and, when showing up in their online world, we adopt the customs of the country*. To fit in? To not sound like weird grownups? WTF?
*The Customs of the Country” is favorite Edith Wharton novel because it’s about a midwestern girl, Udine, who tries to fit into Manhattan society with only middling success. Here I am, fresh from the Midwest circa 1983, trying to fit in at a party in Chelsea with my friend Lulu. I’m the one in the velvet bustier, she’s wearing not one but two turtlenecks. Why was this? I don’t recall.
until i got locked out of my own blog, akin to being barred from your house (freezing, hungry, key in hand but it doesn’t work, contemplating breaking a window) or your own needs and wants (what do I want? why don’t I know what I want?). The sensation is called tech rage but in a person like me (an elocution that could be shortened to “but for me”) I don’t feel rage as much as … forlornness. I’ve changed my apple id 3 times in recent weeks, my sign-on at the office every few months, and I sometimes can’t recall the answers to my own questions: what was my first car? My first dog? It’s a kind of identity theft but of our own doing — we try to gain entry, identifying ourselves to the best of our abilities, only to be blocked by an error message, increasingly dire as we try and try again. The screen shakes. Either the user name or password is incorrect, but “they” won’t tell you which one. And if you try too many times, you’re disallowed, sent into to some email process that takes 10 minutes to emerge from. Let me in.