In an attempt to smooth the rough transition from tactile, physical keyboards to the on-screen, soft keyboards of modern smartphones, developers implemented auto-correct software. In many cases, auto-correct can help weed out common misspellings and typos.
However, it has also become an all-too-common source of comic relief for people across the Web. (Oh, how a single word can completely change the meaning or context of a text message!) Numerous sites that aggregate screen captures of the unexpected and unfortunate auto-corrects of innocent people have surfaced over the last couple years and have grown to be wildly popular.
But seeing as SMS has become a primary communication platform for a large majority of wireless users, auto-correct blunders aren't the only text messaging disasters that happen on a day to day basis.
While I can't say I have ever had auto-correct ruin or completely derail one of my conversations (thank you, SwiftKey), I have most definitely had some pretty embarrassing and tense moments, no thanks to text messaging and its seemingly permanent ink. (There's no changing what you said once you hit Send.)
Text messaging has become second nature for many of us, something we don't really think about and do almost innately. When I'm busy running errands or working, usually, I can successfully carry on a SMS conversation by only half-reading every message that comes in. Sometimes, without even realizing, remembering or comprehending the entire context of the conversation, I will fire off a short, quick reply that doesn't quite make sense or fit in the conversation. Or I will send a message that's poorly worded, easily misinterpreted or that comes off brash.
I get in sort of the same mode when a friend becomes impatient, especially when they get irritated when I can't text back immediately. My eyes glaze over when I'm typing a reply to them – if I even do at all – and they're at the mercy of my subconscious auto-text mode. I've had this backfire on me quite a lot, too.
What's even worse, though, is sending a message to the wrong person.
On iOS, if you back out of the Messages app with unread messages, when you re-open the app, it won't return to the conversation you were in before. Instead, it will open the conversation with the most recent unread message. I cannot begin to count the number of times this has caused me to send a sensitive or embarrassing message to the wrong person. I also used to do the same thing all the time on BlackBerry via SMS and BlackBerry Messenger. Now that I'm primarily on Android, it doesn't happen nearly as often, but I've definitely sent a text message to an unintended recipient on Android, too.
It's times like those that I wish there was an undo button for text messages, a big, red button that would send rogue text messages into oblivion.
Ironically enough, this happened to me as I was writing the first few sentences of this article. My lady friend text messaged me on my Google Voice number. I reached for my phone and read the message. But instead of replying from the phone, I replied from GrowlVoice on my MacBook. When opening the GrowlVoice drop-down, the interface tends to lag a bit while it refreshes with new messages. I hastily clicked the top message (which appeared to be from her), typed my message without paying too much attention and hit enter. Two minutes later, I received a witty text message from my friend Brett.
Luckily, this one wasn't an embarrassing or very personal message. But it could have been much worse. And it has been in the past. I have had my contacts' numbers switched by a third-party Google sync client and continually texted the wrong people for weeks before I finally found a fix. Over the years, I've had some very embarrassing moments that took a lot of sly talking to get myself out of.
Tell me, readers. Have you ever screwed the pooch and text messages the wrong person? Gave away that you weren't really paying attention to the conversation? Have you ever been the victim or recipient of a hilarious auto-correct blunder?