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Gid and Man on My iPhone

From auto-correct to emojis, it isn’t keen on Christianity.
May 24th, 2024

May 23, 2024

Originally published in the Wall Street Journal April 23, 2024

I was finishing a text message when I accidentally typed “Gid bless you.”  Rather than fix the typo by inserting “God,” my iPhone underlined the errant word in red and offered me three corrections: “Giddy,” “Did,” and “Kid.”  You know, “Giddy bless you!”  Or: “How in Did’s name did that happen?”  Or: “Kid bless America.”  Apple can’t be expected to wade into the minutiae of every message—but how could it exclude the obvious option from the list of fixes?

Microsoft Outlook approaches the “Gid” problem more inclusively.  It proposed remedies of “Gad,” “God,” “Gide,” “Gild” and “Gird.”  I’m not sure how Gide made the list since it isn’t a word. But I do understand why “gild” did.  Its secondary definition, according to Merriam-Webster, is “to give an attractive but often deceptive appearance” to something, which is what Microsoft did when it gilded its list with God.

This experience piqued my interest.  When I mistyped another deity, “Talor Swift,” my phone offered the correct spelling of her proper name.  Yet when I spelled it correctly and recast her 2019 hit as “False Gid,” the device asked whether I meant to write “Gods.”

That’s a step up from Giddy, even if a bit pantheistic.  For the record, I wish Ms. Swift had named her song “False Giddy”—a more apt description of her behavior in the Kansas City Chiefs suite whenever her beau, Travis Kelce, scored a touchdown.  But I digress.

If Apple couldn’t recognize God, what about Lucifer, ruler of hell in Dante’s “Inferno”?  I typed “Lucifar” and my phone instantly corrected the spelling, no questions asked.  Can’t blame Apple for not wanting to play with fire.

I then did what anyone proficient in 21st-century tech would do in time of trouble: I checked out the emojis.  If you search for “God,” you get only a palette of paint.  If you search for “devil,” you get four choices: two purple and two red.  Curiously, “angel” gets you only three—and an angelfish.

I’m Catholic, so I wanted to consult the choices for “priest,” “nun” and “pope.”  That evidently stumped the design team, which must have been too busy creating a mermaid, merman, witch, warlock and three vampires.  Same if you searched for “Jesus Christ” and “Virgin Mary,” two figures artists have depicted for centuries.  When you ask for a “rosary,” you get only a string of red prayer beads, representing an Islamic misbaha or Buddhist mala.

My Jewish friends looking for emoji love don’t fare any better.  “Rabbi” and “yarmulke” are ignored.  Credit Apple for its chutzpah.  Search “hijab,” however, and you get a woman wearing one.  Enter “turban” and you get three options.

All this may make one wonder whether Big Tech has an agenda.  Google is doing penance for the blatant bias in its Gemini artificial-intelligence model that presented historically inaccurate but racially diverse images.  Is Apple trying to diminish Judeo-Christian beliefs?

Perhaps.  But better to give the engineers the benefit of the doubt.  God is their judge.  Gid, not so much.

(The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Aging with Dignity and/or its Board of Directors.)


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