You have probably heard of one of the great game changer apps called Google Translate. You can type or say anything into your phone and with the press of a button, Google Translate instantly converts your words into your choice from more than 130 languages, even Sanskrit.
A few years ago, I wrote about a handy upgrade of this service called Google Translate – Family Edition. It’s perfect for helping parents understand what their teenage son actually means when he grunts one-word replies like “whatever” or ”dude” to your question, “When do you plan to do your homework, Nathan?”
I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve almost finished developing an even more powerful version of Google Translate. I think it’s going to be another game changer for kids and adults alike. I call it the Google Kindness Translator. It takes one person’s abusive or argumentative language and, with the press of a button on your phone, converts it into a kinder, more sensitive alternative translation, thereby turning a potentially acrimonious confrontation into a harmonious dialogue.
I came up with my idea in the most unlikely of situations: during a racquetball game. I’ve played with the same group of guys for several years. They’re all great people – well, except for Fred, that is. (Fred is a curmudgeon.) Sometimes, one of the fellows will blurt out something in the heat of the moment he really didn’t mean. That’s when things can quickly get a little chippy.
It all started when Roger hit the ball full force, and it accidentally plunged into the small of Larry’s back. Larry, suddenly in excruciating pain, shouted out, well, I’d rather not print what came out of his mouth. Let’s just say I’m glad no impressionable young kids were within earshot.
Then Larry glared at Roger and complained, “That hurt like the dickens dude! Look where you’re hitting the ball!” To which Roger snarkily replied, “Well, you shouldn’t have been standing in the way of my shot.” Larry was just about to hurl some inflammatory words back in Roger’s face when I quickly intervened: “Larry, when Roger said that you shouldn’t have been standing in the way of his shot, what he meant to say was ‘Oh my, I am deeply sorry I hit you. Are you okay, buddy? Please accept my apology.’ ”
Roger looked at me a bit confused, but then Larry said to Roger, “It’s okay. These things happen.” And tempers cooled down quickly. (This really happened as described.) That’s when I saw the potential for a new app that translates angry words into kind ones. I think this could be the next killer app. My new Kindness Translator is still in beta. But check out these extremely encouraging translations from some of my test subjects.
A husband was about to tell his wife, “Seriously, how much longer will you be before you pick an outfit? JUST PICK ONE, for Christ’s sake. It’s been 45 minutes and you’re still trying on blouses. None of them are going to make you look slim, okay? We’re going to be late for the party – as usual.”
But instead, he quietly spoke those words into the Kindness Translator app on his phone, pressed a button, and voilà. His wife heard instead, “Honey, gosh you look fantastic in any of the eleven outfits you’ve tried on. But just take your time. I’d rather be standing here in our walk-in closet with you than at that silly New Year’s Eve party, anyway. I love you.” And with a press of a button, their marriage was saved – for another evening at least.
A retiree had been patiently waiting for seven minutes for another driver to back out of their parking spot, so he could pull into it. But just as he was about to pull in, another driver came racing in from nowhere and took his spot. As the parking spot stealer exited his car, the retiree was preparing to get up in his grill and bark, “Hey, buddy. I was here first. I’ve been sitting here for the past seven minutes waiting for this spot to open up. So, find another spot, or the next parking spot you’ll be looking for is at the Emergency Room.”
But in a moment of clear thinking, he whispered into the Kindness Translator I had installed on his phone instead. Out came a much more restrained message: “Gosh, I had been hoping to take that spot. But kudos to you for being so quick on the accelerator. Are you a professional racecar driver? Hope you find the perfect gift you’re looking for at the mall, sir. Have a nice day.” No one got hurt. And no cars got keyed. Problem avoided.
My new Kindness Translator is in beta. It still has a few bugs. For example, I tried employing it at a recent Trump rally. I pointed my phone at Trump as he went on one of his usual incoherent, rambling rants: “I’m a very stable genius. Only I can save America. I’m smarter than all the generals. Blacks love me. I don’t have a racist bone in my body.”
But the translation came out as follows: “I’m a total moron, a vengeful narcissist, and a bigot. I lost the election and lied about it. Give me all your money.” On second thought, maybe the app is working just fine.
I still have a lot of work to do before this becomes available to the public. I’m convinced my killer app will bring people closer together and maybe help our divided nation heal some of its longstanding wounds – or at the very least help me talk my way out of a future speeding ticket.
That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.
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