Let the Tool do the Work
When I first got an iPhone, it had different ideas about what I wanted to say than I did. Choosing to text a word that wasn’t one of the autocorrect suggestions was inconvenient, and so my sentences would bend towards its suggestions.
I don’t remember when this stopped happening. It’s possible that it hasn’t, and that texting, like many other aspects of my life, has fallen into the rectangular gravity well of a smartphone. It’s also possible that autocorrect has gotten better at figuring out what I want to say, or perhaps that my fingers have become more practiced at navigating the imaginary form of the keyboard.
A dialog like this replays itself with any tool we adopt. Though perhaps it is more jarring when the tool is almost literally putting words into one’s mouth. At first unwieldy, the tool and its user habitutate to one another. Both develop creases. The teeth of a well-used bike gear dull, and one’s legs adapt.
At times, it has been important to me to resist this dialog. Resisting it is in some way a desire for personal authenticity, to be independent. To resist a dialog is to act as if the tool does not exist, or to insist upon doing it your way. It can be a determination to write code in a manner that does not suit the language. For most if not all of my career as a student, I acted as if doing the things one does to improve simply did not exist. I did anything other than study. Worrying constantly about whether or not I was smart, I would conveniently distract myself from doing the sorts of things that would have helped me be “smarter”.
The belief that one can resist dialog with tools is poured from the same vessel as the belief that one can live entirely self-sufficiently, that by refusing human connections you will express your true self. A large part of our selves exists only in relationship to others, other people, and other tools.