05/05/2013 08:17 am ET Updated Jul 05, 2013

FACE IT: Is Everyone And Thing Smarter Than Us?


Who knows why some of us feel intellectually inferior? I am certainly not going to blame my mother and father for this, though they would sort of smile with a sense of surprise when I did anything above the norm. Achievement was appreciated, if not expected. Dropping out of college probably left an intellectually-challenged imprint on me as well. Now, having returned after 40 gap years, I am surrounded by Ivy Leaguers and I really am the dumbest person in the room.

All this is a way of saying that I have learned to deal with human perceptions and presumptions... but now my PHONE has to be smarter than me too?

I know I am not alone in simultaneously marveling at all the things my devices can do (even though I do about 1/20th of them) and being irritated by them. Nor am I alone in bitching about how these constantly accelerating gadgets try to tell me what I am thinking before I even finish thinking it. This week, for example, I was texting with my son and attempting to show off my NBA savvy. So I was taken aback when he counter-texted a giant question mark asking who Camelot was. I had not noticed that while I was musing about Carmelo (Anthony), my SMARTER-phone assumed I must mean Camelot. (Since when does King Arthur play for the Knicks?)

Lest you think this is strictly an age thing, a young friend's email about Kobe Bryant's potential career as a raper stunned me. Until he quickly wrote back that he had meant rapper, but the keyboard misunderstood. (I love when it talks dirty) Okay, it may be a little about those our age being resistant to the Tech world. We mastered Email just in time to Instant Message. Arthritis fought algorithms as we took on texting. My kids had to teach me how to Spotify, but now I use it to perfection. But none of this makes me feel as brain-cell deficient as the superiority of the auto-correcting of the Internet.

Again, I am not alone. My friend Bonnie emailed and asked if I could put her in social-network touch with a mutual acquaintance. It took me awhile to realize that the Susan Freudian she was referring to was actually Susan Friedman. Talk about a slip! And when I responded, poor Susan was transformed from a therapist's quip to a Freed Man. Speaking of the latter, when I wrote a friend about Obama's great comic delivery, I got an odd response, virtually accusing me of racism. I had to return to the original to see that my computer program had assumed I meant Obama's comic slavery.

Poor GOP Chairman Reince Priebus has been a constant source of Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart's material, who toss his Jumble-filled name back and forth. So imagine how he confounds AutoCorrect. My daughter admitted that when she tried writing something about him, (she works on Capitol Hill) the name kept coming up as "Tribe PreIndustrial." (Whoa--good stretch!) Every time she writes to her friend Lex, by the way, it comes out as "Jew." Now Lex is Jewish, but still...

Yes, I realize that AutoCorrect is just trying to be nice, to save us a little time by taking a leap of conjecture to get to our obviously-intended point faster. But honest, they AUT-TO butt out sometimes and let us reflect on what we are going to say and how we are going to say it. They may think they are saving us time, but in fact, we now spend more of it poring over everything we just wrote to make sure we didn't inadvertently insult the ones we love. By the way, if AutoCorrect is trying to save us time, why is it that whenever I try to shorten something, it comes back wrong? I received an email asking why I needed a fix, for example. Huh? As I checked the thread, I realized I had been saying I needed tix for a show. I find it usually gives us three strikes before it gives up and lets us write what we choose.

I applaud the amazing strides these tech folks constantly conjure up, but don't they have anything better to do than correct something that was perfectly fine in the first place? It's one thing to chime in periodically to suggest that if we like Sam Cooke, we'll probably like John Legend. But to tell us we probably mean Prince Rainier when we are talking about the head of the Republican party?

I may be insecure about my aging brain, but I will be damned if I am going to let a phone tell me it knows better. Maybe it should just go back to ringing.

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