“ Author: Jillian Madison / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 05 May 2011 / Genre: Humour / Subcategory: Humour Collections & Anthologies / Publisher: Ebury Press / Title: Damn You, Autocorrect! / ISBN 13: 9780753540084 / ISBN 10: 0753540084 „
Smart phones have revolutionised our daily lives by making everything super easy and quickly accessible, and they are so smart they even know precisely what those people suffering from fat finger syndrome are trying to type in text messages and even better yet, helpfully correct those mistakes for them by making use of stored dictionaries and even learning what their most popular words choices are, making those boring old skills like spelling and accurate motor control a thing of the past. Blooming marvellous. Except when it isn't. Sometime, alas, the autocorrect function on your phone can develop a mind of its own and amend your words to things you'd never dream of, often with vicious malintent seemingly hell bent on making you seem deranged or just plain perverted to unfortunate people...like your parents.
My friend narrowly avoided a disastrous autocorrect incident and possibly a written warning when he was smarming up to his boss one day whose aunt was very poorly at the time, and he was politely enquiring as to her welfare before, thankfully, noticing just before sending that the word aunt had a c replacing the a. Though why that word was one of his most popular I daren't speculate. It was exactly for this type of reason that a lady called Jillian Madison purchased the www.damnyouautocorrect.com domain and set up her own website to display some of her own pretty hilarious vocabulary malfunctions for the world to see, with a surprisingly overwhelming response from the general public who, demonstrating that this plague on the communication world was more widespread than one could have been imagined, began uploading their own mishaps to the site for the whole world's amusement and thus begun the DYAC phenomenon.
I was despondently waiting at Richmond station one day after work due to an unfortunate person having decided that the best way to kill themselves was via the method of a moving train thus adding a minimum of 2 hours to my 40 minute journey home. With the bus queue resembling that of a post office I decided to wander around a bit hoping things would calm down in a little while and with a quick text home saying "I will be attempting to get the bus to Twice ham but don't expect me for some time" I couldn't help but chuckle at my autocorrect failure which should have naturally read Twickenham. With that in mind, I stumbled in to Waterstones and lo and behold was inexplicably drawn to a paperback book version of the website. At £6.99 it was perhaps a bit on the steep side, but I was feeling annoyed and in the mood for some cheering up via retail therapy so the book soon became mine, but I think considering the fact you can find the contents online for free I wouldn't bother paying full price for this if you can help it.
So what do you get for you spondoolies? Well the book opens with a rather entertaining but brief introduction by Jillian Madison explaining how the website first came to life and what the autocorrect function on a phone is all about as well as the various ways it can all go horribly wrong, often with mortifying results. An amusing list is also provided of the most common autocorrect mistakes such as "thing" becoming "thong", "kids" becoming "LSD", "sodium" becoming "sodomy" (though I can't think of a time I've ever had to use either of those words in a text message) to name but a few. I've tried some of these on my own phone and don't get half the same errors unfortunately, so I suspect a lot of these happen due to the dictionaries used in America - what we can infer from that I'll leave up to you. The rest of the book is then devoted purely to the graphical printouts of the best entries from the website (at least up until that point in time) divided into 7 amusing groups: 1. Parents Just Don't Understand; 2. Love Gone Wrong; 3. What's Cookin'; 4. Freudian Slips; 5. Say What?!; 6. Textin 9 to 5, and finally 7. With Friends Like These. So all that is left to do is dive in to the world of autocorrect failures either by reading in order group by group or simply diving in wherever you feel like, hopping page to page like some kind of demented rabbit - either way you should find it all, as Stephen Fry himself endorses "completely and utterly hilarious".
So, let's be honest, the nature of this book is pretty basic, and you're probably only going to get a small amount of use from it before the novelty factor wears off and it becomes a tad tired before ending up collecting dust on your bookcase shelf, but, before the inevitable loss of shiny newness occurs, there is a lot of enjoyment to be had from this book. Out of the approximately 250 entries, some do begin to start feeling a bit repetitive, especially with the more you read in one go since similar mistakes are made causing the same resulting embarrassment / humiliation, but for some, the way the whole meaning of the message can be changed beyond recognition by often just one or two characters getting changed can often be pants-wettingly comical or just plain weird so once you have sorted the wheat from the chaff this book will not fail to leave you in a jovial mood afterwards, especially if you have a slow and painful journey home sat around waiting and waiting on a cold train platforms for a train getting more and more delayed....I do apologise, inappropriate rant over. So, here's a quick taster of what you might expect:
"Is dad around? I have a question about computers"
"He's getting a sex change but he left an hour ago so he should be back soon!"
"A sex change?! Wow, in an hour, that's impressive"
"Oh for heaven's sake. I wrote oil change and this phone changed it"
...and there's plenty more where that came from! Obviously this book is purely for light entertainment purposes which has the advantage that it can be enjoyed by just about everyone from teenagers laughing at the "older generation" having an inability to operate their phones properly, to those painfully aware how misunderstandings can ruin a perfectly good romantic relationship, to those that need a work day brightening up or simply to those that love all things random. However, it is definitely worth mentioning there is often a sexual nature to the accidental amendments, so parents may want to use their discretion in letting their kids read this book as things can get quite indecent at times.
So overall, I would say this book has some excellent novelty value, but is probably more the type of book to dip into now and again for some quick light hearted moments rather than reading cover to cover, just to extend its longevity, as the more you read in one go the more immune you get to its charms. I hesitate to say, but it could also make a great addition to the collection of that percentage of the population that seems to enjoy the odd perusal of material whilst inhabiting bathroom facilities. At £6.99 it is perhaps a tiny bit expensive for what you are getting (as I said before with the contents available on the website for free) but it is nicer in my opinion to have the best autocorrections in a nice looking paperback format instead of having to stare at a screen on a website that is less organised and full of a lot more dross and potentially faked mistakes, so if you can find it a bit cheaper than full price I would thoroughly recommend going for this book if you're looking for quick laughs. Alternatively, I suspect this book would also make a great novelty gift, especially around Christmas time with potential Secret Santa duties lurking around the corner as it is relatively cheap and I think pretty much most people would enjoy this book as there is just such a variety of hilarious and utterly embarrassing mistakes allowing us to anonymously laugh at our hapless peers in the safety of our own homes. With guaranteed laughs, I would totally recommend.