Masterstrokes by messaging minefields
American essayist Henry David Thoreau once said, “Men have become the tools of their tools.” True, there is a new affliction around now and it is called WhatsApp. It rules over humans, nearly covering a seventh of the world population. The world we are living is straight out of a dystopian novel that hasn’t been written by George Orwell but by our very own Mark Zuckerberg. Many of us initially downloaded WhatsApp because it was fun, easy, economical, safe, simple and a fast way of calling and sharing the text but never realised that it would dig its tentacles deep into our lives to take it over.
An acquaintance creates a group and adds you in it without your consent and you start getting messages from strangers putting you in dilemma ‘to be or not to be’. Even the text we key is not in our control, the number of times, we don’t read the message we have sent and let it go only to discover to our horror that what we have sent is what we never meant. As I try to send a text message on my mobile phone ‘love’ becomes ‘loaf’, ‘pull’ becomes ‘full’. This predictive dictionary, an inbuilt feature of smart phones predicts what it thinks you want to key in and if you key in something different it automatically corrects the word to what it thinks it ought to be. This is how auto-correct dictates you. I just wanted to say ‘so lovely’ to a friend who looked lovely in her profile picture but I sent a message ‘slovenly’ and noticed it after two days! So unintentionally with one wrong word, I blew up the whole world. Modern technology, I believe owes Oxford dictionary an apology as it gives us many ‘oops moments’ to roll in pure comedy.
Another blunder that often puts us in hot water is chatting simultaneously with two or three friends or groups. I once wished ‘Happy Wedding Anniversary’ to a spinster colleague and all my sorry, please, disregard put me further into deeper waters. In our ‘Family Ties’ group I revealed a secret that I was supposed to leak into the ‘Funny Family’ group. This led to family fights and feuds. Though I wanted to laugh, I had to apologise to tide over the embarrassment.
Common names mess up the messaging minefields when one is playing a prank. I sent a message to Dr Mamta, my colleague and friend, ‘Come to staffroom. We’ll take your class today” and Lo! It was sent to Dr Mamta, a gynaecologist friend who replied, ‘Once a teacher, always a teacher, want to summon a doctor for class.’ I traverse such minefields of disaster as a constant casualty.
Another WhatsApp feature that plays havoc with our self respect is ‘last seen’ or the single grey tick, double grey tick or the blue ticks. You feel restless finding the grey ticks turning blue and still not receiving a response. It presses a panic button, leaving you wondering of what’s gone wrong. I need an answer. We have an image of the recipient of our misspell efforts staring at the contents and then swarming off without bothering to reply. When we get the much-awaited reply our face lights up with a smile that all is well.
I believe a thinking machine ought not to be called artificial intelligence. Their intelligence is not artificial, it is real. Our intelligence for having invented them is all ‘altu-faltu’ intelligence for we are humans. We can’t be perfect. This machine tailored ‘world of words’ truly outsmarts us by its masterstrokes!
A BLUNDER THAT OFTEN PUTS US IN HOT WATER IS CHATTING SIMULTANEOUSLY WITH TWO OR THREE FRIENDS OR GROUPS. I ONCE WISHED ‘HAPPY WEDDING ANNIVERSARY’ TO A SPINSTER COLLEAGUE
The writer teaches English at MLN College, Yamunanagar