Saturday, November 24, 2018

Correspondence With Myself

(Maybe the following only makes sense if you use GMAIL. Google not only reads my email but provides a choice of responses.)

It didn’t work. Al is on to me and my mischief.  I tried writing an email to myself to see if the Google Algorithm would supply a ready-made answer. I apologized to me for missing my Thanksgiving dinner. I was hoping for instant forgiveness by Al. Nothing. Then I congratulated myself for winning an Oscar as Second Banana. He didn’t slip on that one either.

I was beginning to rely on their two-word appropriate response. This morning a friend sent a joke. My choices were, Love It or Good One or Very funny. Al nailed that one.

When given the three choices my impulse is to say anything but that. After all, the very least we can do is struggle against conformity. That’s the challenge. Maybe after a year or so of denying Al his appropriate answer he’ll leave me alone or have to come up with another set of replies.

This feels like a slippery slope. I expect the algorithms are always four steps ahead of us. Someday we’ll sit down at the keyboard and type in a word or two and, Voila or Shazam, our entire message will pop up on the screen complete with our sui generis nuances and quirky wit and maybe even a few emojis and an attachment or two.

I just wrote my message about missing Thanksgiving dinner to both myself and to Peggy. Again I was offered no canned answer on my page but Peggy was supplied with, O.K. we will miss you and Thanks for letting me know. Al still knows I’m messing with him but I can get away with my nonsense addressing Peggy.

Even now as I am typing Al is finishing my sentences. Damn him. We’ve been colonized. It may be time for something subversive. A call for iconoclasts to say the unsayable. The right moment to speak in fluent Trash. A plea to push the margins into gibberish if necessary. But how can we reach each other without his noticing?

What began as a lazy man’s service to dispose of a message with a click may yet become a full takeover of our selfhood. And while I think of it why is there no second “I” in algorithm? Obviously because Al has stolen my “I” and substituted myself for himself. Case closed.

Since I’ve been thoroughly Googlized by Al he can go on beyond my remaining allotment of years (days?) into my afterlife. It’s a great comfort to know that my email correspondence might continue posthumously. It could happen to anyone. With a little effort they might capture the sentences of my favorite long-gone people. Imagine an epistolary relationship with Euripides, Shakespeare or Yogi Berra.


  1. I find it all creepy, but an epistolary relationship with Yogi Berra would be very interesting!

  2. Yup, I'd probably have to take the fork in the road.