When autocorrect first became a “thing”, we were in awe of the fact that a keyboard was trying to interpret what we were saying. Google gave us the same feeling with their predictive search function. Of course, we’ve all be in situations where we have typed something, and autocorrect has changed it for us. I was texting with a friend, trying to tell her that I would be ready in “one sec”, but my autocorrect changed that to “one sex”. No, that’s not indicative of what I’m typing normally, and it was an honest mistake. She laughed. Thankfully it was someone who knew me well enough to know that I wasn’t being inappropriate. That said, keyboards don’t always make mistakes.
Now, let’s think about the ways that keyboards could actually help us. And I mean from a social perspective. Women all around the world, regardless of age, suffer from some kind of self-esteem issues. So there has to be something, somewhere, that will help women understand their value or worth. Well, now there might be. And it might be in the form of a keyboard. The Finnish branch of the humanitarian agency, Plan International, has built a new Android keyboard called Sheboard. When installed, it offers word suggestions in order to empower women.
For example, when you type in the word “women”, it will give you some word that should make you feel empowered. One suggestion? “Lead”. Women lead. Another example, if you type in the world “girls”, you will be given the word “rule”. I completely agree with what this is trying to achieve. I really do. But I am not convinced that it will create women who are more confident. I have been down in the self-esteem department – many times. Simple affirmations don’t work for me. Maybe I heard too many derogatory words growing up associated with who I was or how I looked. But I feel like women shouldn’t be the target audience, even if you suffer from low self-esteem.
This might seem contrary to what the app is trying to achieve. But I would argue that this message needs to be sent out to people who feel that women aren’t of value. Maybe that’s men? I’m not trying to stereotype, honestly. Nor am I saying that we should rely on men for our self-esteem. But if you’ve been in an abusive relationship, you will know what it does to your self-esteem. In that situation, it’s not me who needs the advice that I’m strong. I know I’m strong, but I don’t necessarily know how to block out the noise coming from other people.
Obviously, you can’t target men and tell them they need to be nicer to women. That’s not a good strategy. But I wonder if this kind of tool could (and should) be introduced to young kids so that they grow up understanding that women are of value. If you grow up in a world where women are being put down, then you’re going to feel that way too. I love the use of technology to promote this change, but I think it will take a couple generations before this idea is no longer prevalent. And even then, I’m not sure that it will go away completely.