My girlfriend Anne got me Apple’s new PaggroCorrect app ostensibly as an early birthday present, but really, I think she was just trying to save our relationship. According to the product description, PaggroCorrect “identifies passive-aggressive language in text exchanges and modifies it to produce mature, assertive declarations of unambiguous meaning.” Or, in English, it works like AutoCorrect only instead of fixing your crap spelling, it fixes your crap communication. Yippee.
This past Sunday, after Anne and I had a big blowout because her ex included her on a “hysterical” (her words) Halloween joke email thread, she texted me from the bedroom to ask if I was mad. I tried to write No Im fine but PaggroCorrect changed it to I’m upset. Please join me in the den so we can discuss like adults. (Apple’s GPS is scary-accurate. My stupid phone probably told Anne’s stupid phone that I had my feet on the stupid coffee table that her stupid father got us and then told us never to touch/use.) Thanks a lot, PaggroCorrect. I missed Big Papi’s series-saving grand salami on account of a three-hour “adult discussion” with the old lady re: warranted vs. unwarranted jealousy.
Then, the other day at work, Anne texted to ask me what I wanted for dinner. I tried to tell her Whatever, but that’s one of PaggroCorrect’s “red flag words,” especially when it shows up solo, so instead of sending the text it automatically dialed her cell (I couldn’t cancel the call or shut my phone off) and I had to go through a thirty-minute rigmarole about whether Mexican sounded too heavy and why I was in such a mood. I’m already on thin ice with the guys at work on account of that note I left in the break room, when I thought they were eating my Chobanis (turns out I was just eating them really quickly), so the last thing I need is to be making long personal phone calls about my “defensiveness” and whether I want my mashed spuds “skin on” or “bareback,” the latter of which frankly seems like a weird and overly erotic way to describe potatoes. Sometimes I really wonder about Anne’s sexual history. She always calls herself a prude, but stuff like that, man, I have my doubts.
After a few days I realized this PaggroCorrect thing was nothing but trouble, but when I tried to turn it off, it asked for a passcode like I was some kid trying to watch Skinemax on his folks’ plasma. (Anne probably has the code, but no way in hell I’m asking her for it. That’s World War III waiting to happen.) Then I thought I’d found a loophole—I would just stop responding, as I’ve been known to do—but come to find out that if I go quiet for five-plus minutes in the middle of an exchange, PaggroCorrect sends a message that says Let’s talk about this in a little bit, after I’ve cooled off. Love you. If I haven’t called or texted within an hour, the damn thing auto-dials her. Doesn’t this stupid app realize that the more my girlfriend and I talk, the more we fight? It’s taken our golden silence and turned it to rubble.
It’s also making things awkward with my pals. When Tom texted a few times to ask how Runner Runner was (Tom’s an Affleck fanatic but skeptical of anything starring Justin Timberlake), I tried to write Ok. But that’s another red flag, so I wound up saying Can we talk? He called me and I tried to explain the app, but even though he was really nice and we kinda laughed about it, I could tell he didn’t believe me. After that he texted to ask if I was alright (shades of Anne). I didn’t want to say anything, but I had that five-minute clock running in my head like a countdown to weird. I went with Yea, but it morphed into It’s easy for tone to get distorted via text. Let’s chat in person. XO. Tom hasn’t responded.
Apple says they’ve heard these complaints and will roll out a whole series of PaggroCorrect versions for use between friends, coworkers, roommates, siblings, everything. But if the beta version is any indication, all these apps are going to do is use our words to cook up melodrama. My relationship’s rockier than ever since I got the app, but surprise surprise, Anne disagrees. She says our lines of communication “have never been so open,” which of course makes me feel totally claustrophobic.
The worst part is, yesterday Anne forwarded me an email order confirmation—riddled with I guess giddy emoji (how about an app that translates that bunk? All these fruits and ghosts and crap, it’s like I’m dating Ms. Pac-Man)—for Apple’s new SarcoCorrect, which “identifies sarcastic language in text exchanges and modifies it to produce mature, honest declarations of unambiguous meaning.”
Yeah, that’s just what I need.
Evan Allgood's work has appeared in McSweeney's, The Millions, LA Review of Books, The Toast, and The Billfold. He lives in Brooklyn and contributes regularly to Paste. Follow and maybe later unfollow him on Twitter @evoooooooooooo.