My iPhone is Racist…

You may think I picked that title to attract readers or I’ve chosen to exaggerate or speak in metaphor. However, I promise you this is entirely true.

I had an amazing week last week, shooting 6 Days on an independent feature production. The days were long and tiring, but really wonderful. And it was amazing to see how many ways a smartphone can be utilized in the constant melee that is production. Little did I know what lurked in the brain of this device.

We were scheduled to shoot an office Christmas party one day and I had an idea for props a few hours before call-time. So, I pulled out my trusty iPhone and sent the Craft service person the following request:

“Could you pick up some clear plastic glasses and milk on your way to set? I want to use the visual of milk to look like egg-nogg.”

All phones recommend words as you type, in an effort to save time. And I’ve often been impressed at the intelligence of the process, while wondering how all the cross-referencing works with our friend the dictionary.

As I typed the word “nogg”, my phone must have wondered what on earth I was meaning. And I admit the chances of anyone typing egg-nogg into their iPhone are about as likely as snow in Los Angeles, but it does happen.

However, my phone assumed the word I really wanted was: Niggardly.

Some of you are now grabbing your iPhone to see if this will happen. And I’m sure it won’t. You see my fingers, which I always thought were fairly normal in size, are apparently as big as elbows when I try to type an iPhone text. I’m sure I hit something odd to create the perfect storm of strange recommendations.

But whatever the combination, there it was: Niggardly.

Now I grew up in the generation where “the N-word” transitioned to that special place where it is so inappropriate that is should never be spoken, typed, read, or even thought about. It has been all but programmed out of the English language and relegated to history.

Unless, of course, you happen to be a hip-hop star or a gang member… then you have special permission to use it like you’re saying “Hi”. This ridiculousness could be an entire other entry, but it’s the world we live in.

And in this world I am quite certain that no one… and I mean absolutely no one… uses the world Niggardly. If we don’t use it as a noun, I’m sure we aren’t going to use it as an adverb. There’s no chance that some hip-hop gang member is going to look at his buddy and say “Homie, chill, you’re being quite niggardly.”

Thus… My iPhone is apparently racist. And I’m left to wonder what dictionary it uses?

Then upon reflection I realize something else: iPhones come in two colors, black & white.

And I happen to have a black one.

So. Maybe it’s okay after all. And I should just chill.


  1. Niggardly is a negative word, obviously derived from Nigger, so chris, Im glad you know how to use google, but just because it has a definition doesnt mean its not racist.

  2. I bookmarked this. My dad got a new iPhone so he gave me his old one. I am texting a friend and my phone attempts to throw the word “niggardly” into my conversation. After having a really good laugh, I decided I had to know what it meant. I typed in niggardly iPhone and your page was first on my list. Yes, my phone is also black.

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