Norberto King, American

The image above comes from A. Ron Galbraith’s Facebook feed, through which he gave it to the world with the caption “let’s get real here, autocorrect.” The autocorrect function on the iPhone and similar touchscreen devices works by trying different permutations of the letters nearest the letters you hit. You can map “Norberto king” to its deliberately-struck neighbors nicely, right up until you get to the O. At that point, autocorrect moves from likely mistakes to wishful thinking. For Apple, a company that has built its reputation on cannily assessing how people use their consumer electronics, to assume that Aaron probably wanted to say “Norberto king” rather than the common intensifier he typed perfectly seems, well, naive. Consider their alternative, though, which is to add “motherfucking” to their autocorrect dictionary. While thousands of Americans like myself would find it easier to send text messages about our dentists and burritos, a small number would be upset. Somewhere in Kansas, a woman mourning the death of her beloved friend Norberto would text a fellow church deacon to ask if he was going to the motherfucking funeral, and that would be it. Our phone autocorrects’ willful insistence that we meant to type “what the duck” is a manifestation of the same phenomenon that makes it okay to shoot fifty people in a PG-13 movie, but not okay to show a boob or a cigarette. Most of us have no problem with boobs or smoking, but the few who do are extremely vocal. Thus does the public tolerance of a society move to the level of its least tolerant members. That’s a curious nuisance for most people, and a life-determining problem if you’re, say, a gay dude who wants to get Norberto King married.

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  1. Geez, short and sweet today. Guess I’ll get back to work. If my Norberto King supervisor asks me why I was so productive today, I’ll e-mail her this link.

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