Forms & Abbreviations
What’s the sitch with filling out your address information on an internet form when you live in Minnesota?
At first glance it is not obvious that this sitch is in dire need of analysis. It’s strangely specific and seemingly not interesting, at all. “NJ you might be slipping,” comes quickly to mind. And the voice in your head probably isn’t wrong.
BUT! Bare with me for a sentence or two.
I use a laptop exclusively, sans-mouse. This means, when filling out forms online, I often am using the ‘tab’ button for its ‘skip-to-the-next-box’ functionality. Usually serves me pretty well, allowing me to rifle through forms without having to adjust the position of my hands on the keyboard.
But... I often get caught up on one particular part of the address form. As I ‘tab’ through to the ‘State’ box, and hit ‘M, N,’... ‘MA’ remains stubbornly within the box, taunting me, taking satisfaction in halting the smooth flow of my form-filling.
It is already annoying enough to be filling out a form. I hate the process no matter how smooth the user experience. And then, some lazy-ass programmer decides to go home early on Friday and leave the form-filling-code one crucial line short, forcing me into the extra click during an already painful process. Talk about the straw and the camel’s back and all that.
I love Minnesota, and I love living here. But this is tough for me. This is a tough one. And it will be a contributing factor in my decision to continue living here in the future.
That said, Minnesota is not the only state suffering. Alabama (AL), Arkansas (AR), Arizona (AZ), Colorado (CO), Connecticut (CT), Delaware (DE), Idaho (ID), Illinois (IL), Indiana (IN), Kentucky (KY), Maryland (MD), Maine (ME), Michigan (MI), MINNESOTA (MN), Missouri (MO), Mississippi (MS), Montana (MT), North Dakota (ND), Nebraska (NE), New Hampshire (NH), New Jersey (NJ), New Mexico (NM) Nevada (NV), New York (NY), Oklahoma (OK), Oregon (OR), South Dakota (SD), Texas (TX), Vermont (VT), Wisconsin (WI), West Virginia (WV), and Wyoming (WY) are the 31 states with abbreviations that do not come first alphabetically within their letter-group. That’s about 160 million people, making it slightly more likely that you live in a state with this internet-address-form-hiccup than without.
Alaska (AK), California (CA), District of Colombia (DC), Florida (FL), Georgia (GA), Hawaii (HI), Iowa (IA), Kansas (KS), Louisiana (LA), Massachusetts (MA), North Carolina (NC), Ohio (OH), Pennsylvania (PA), Rhode Island (RI), South Carolina (SC), Tennessee (TN), Utah (UT), Virginia (VA), and Washington (WA) are the 19 states (and one district) with abbreviations that come first alphabetically within their letter-group, i.e. the 20 snobbiest places in the country to live. This contingent houses about 150 million people, slightly less than half our populace.
This factor immediately changes the way I look at places like Iowa or Kansas or Ohio or Rhode Island. Instead of openly scoffing at the decision to live in one of these wastelands, one of these embarrassing stains on the crisp white shirt of the union... now I can wrap my head around it. At least in their state they can fill out an internet form in relative peace.
As a society we are extremely polarized on seemingly every issue. Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice. Raise vs. lower taxes. Android vs. iPhone. etc. etc. There’s no reason to add another one to the list. This flaw in internet-form technology is easily fixable. I know this because there are many forms online without the aforementioned glitch. The technology exists, it just hasn’t been implemented everywhere.
This is the kind of thing where the government may have to step in. I liken it to the FDA and their food-safety inspectors. Market forces aren’t enough to guarantee an absence of botulinum toxin in a Doritos Locos Taco at my local Taco Bell. So the government makes certain that the Grade E ground beef I’m eating won’t kill me (though I recently found out, from personal experience, that they don’t inspect for all diarrhea-inducing factors in the meat...)
Something similar is needed here, to make sure that the citizens of each state are afforded their, “unalienable rights,” including, “the pursuit of happiness.” I’m advocating for these regulations, not just because I am a bitter Minnesotan who has to deal with this inequality everyday, but also because I’m worried about the fate of our oft-fragile union if changes are not made.
Need I remind you, there are more of us living in states dealing with the glitch. Additionally, the two fastest growing states (North Dakota and Texas) as well as the two of the three most populous states (Texas and New York) are within the ranks of the ignored. This does not bode well for the alphabetically-empowered tyrants if they refuse to listen to our demands.
I foresee this issue leaping abruptly into the spotlight as the 2016 presidential campaign gets underway. It is an issue that is not subject to traditional party lines, and one that could sway many undecideds. Regardless of a person’s political views, if they live in New Mexico or Idaho or Connecticut I suspect that, during those private moments in the voting booth when a person’s deepest feelings are allowed to surface, stinging memories of ending up on NC or IA or CA will compel them to do the right thing, and vote for the candidate that pledges to correct this institutional injustice.
This is my call to those in elected office, to those with the power to make a change, to those who claim to be defenders of our Constitution; enact law that requires internet sites with a ‘State’ portion in their address forms to include predictive abbreviation technology so that I can easily use the my laptop’s keyboard throughout the filling process. Please. I don’t want this to escalate anymore than it already has. There are fevered murmurings amongst the people... we won’t ask nicely again.