For the most part, I have gotten used to - and even sometimes grateful for - the auto text feature in my word processing program or to help me along the way in texting. To begin a word and have the rest of the word or sometimes a whole phrase suggested can be a time saver - with the added benefit of the program being a more accurate typer than I am! Of course, it can go hilariously or embarrassingly wrong but proof-reading before hitting print or send will catch most of those.
The challenge for me these days is what I am coming to think of as emotional – socio-cultural shaped - autofill. Somebody says a word or a phrase and it triggers a whole emotional response, complete with requisite outrage. Words are less and less able to defend themselves. It apparently doesn’t matter what the speaker of the word actually meant - the emotional response to what they didn’t mean completely drowns out the rest of what might have been a conversation.
This is a problem in a couple of ways. First, it shuts down reasoned dialogue seeking mutual ground before it even has a chance to start. Second, it is dismissive of the personhood of the one speaking in the first place - a type of emotional cut off, calculated to restore stability to a vibrating system by undermining their intent. It is demeaning to, in effect, say, “you don’t know what you mean - so let me tell you what you mean.” And, of course, it usually reflects what is in the one who is emotionally triggered - they are responding out of fear or something like it which has devolved into anger.
This kind of emotional autofill is not reserved for the fearful or angry on only one side of any given issue. This is the essence of cancel culture - I know what you mean better than you know what you mean - and, based on my knowing, I deem you unworthy of being. Or, at least, of being part of the conversation…
You can hear it bouncing off the canyon walls of our political divide… Because you indicated an interest in pushing resources from the top where it has accumulated in obscene amounts to those at the bottom, at whose expense it much of it was acquired, you are a socialist - and therefore of no account and, on top of it all, deplorable. Because you speak the value of black lives, you must therefore be a marxist because others who say similar things hold that agenda. You cannot possibly mean that, in fact, black lives matter especially if they are the lives under present attack. Because you are concerned with what appears to be an observable pattern of the abuse of power by some under cover of authority, you must therefore be opposed to all authority and, for that matter, law and order in general.
And, of course, it goes the other way, as well - because you speak of the value of the life of the unborn, you must therefore not be concerned about what happens to that child once it is born into abysmal social circumstances. Or because you value border protections that assist in protecting the well-being and safety of the citizens of a country, you must be anti-immigrant and favor the sending of those in the country illegally back to almost certain death in their countries of origin. Or because you support a more or less free-market capitalist economy, you must be okay with the exploitation of the poor by the rich in a kind of economic evolution guaranteeing the survival and thriving of those with resources in the first place.
And on and on it goes… Because you are in favor of respecting the human rights of those with alternate sexual and gender expressions, you must therefore be in favor of pedophilia and of any and all forms of sexual behavior, and think the society does not have any business being involved at all. Or, because you are concerned with protecting the young, the naive, the innocent from sexual predation, you must therefore be in favor of regulating all and any sexual behavior and institution of morality codes for employment. And so on, ad nauseum.
In the meantime, we are losing the battle for humanity – for our own souls - and because we fail to realize we are all on the same team, we are all of the same kind, we all have a common Father, we appear completely unaware of the real enemy who seeks nothing more than to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. Of course, he has little to do these days - we are doing all the heavy lifting for him. Our emotional auto-fill may be his greatest strategy yet.