Thursday, November 13, 2014

I hate my computer and my computer hates me

One day a computer is going to kill me.

They're going to find me slumped over a keyboard somewhere, blood leaking from my ears, with a heart stopped by pure rage, because a piece of technology wouldn't do what it bloody well should.

Because nothing drives me into a red rage like malfunctioning technology. I know this is the ultimate first world problem, and I know it's bloody stupid, but it's the only thing that gets me punch-the-wall angry on a regular basis.

And knowing just how stupid it is just makes it worse. If I lose my shit when Solitaire keeps crashing on the new version of Windows, I hope to God nobody can see me, because I'm throwing a petulant little tantrum over bullshit, and nobody looks good doing that.

(Although, seriously, how do you fuck up Solitaire? How do you fuck up the most basic game you've got? Microsoft somehow managed, and it drives me fuckin' bonkers!)

People always assume I'm good with computers, because I look like the sort of dork who is good with computers, and because I'm good at quickly picking up tech-related things. But even though I can bluff my way through most of it, I usully don;t have a fucking clue what I'm talking about.

I did do some IT work for a couple of years in the mid nineties, and I was okay at iyt, but then a network I'd set up wouldn't work and I'd get all worked up about it. I did like the problem solving aspect, and fixing an itchy glitch was the best feeling, but there was always more frustrations that joys.

But shit, that was 20 years ago now, and technology has exploded since then, and I could never keep up. The way the internet works might as well be magic, for all I know. I even work in an online world, but I have no idea how it all works. When people are surprised by this, I also point out that I'm a bloody good driver, but I ain't no mechanic.

So I know it's bullshit, but man, when a computer doesn't do what it is told, or locks up for absolutely no reason, or steals 30 seconds of my vital and important life which I could have spent wanking, I'm a quivering mountain of suppressed rage.

If it happens in an office environment, I hold it together enough to not make a scene, because you never want to be known as the dude who lost his shit that one time, or you'll ALWAYS be known as the dude who lost his shit that one time, but I'll be quietly mashing the mouse into the desk with white knuckle intensity.

But when it happens at home, that's when things get really shameful. I have these giant banana boxes full of comics stacked near the home PC, and when things don't go my way, those boxes can take a pummelling.

They're actually quite good for that - punching paper is easier than punching oak or steel. But sometimes the computer locks up, or shuts down with unfinished work left unsaved, and I punch the shit out of a box of comics, and it still hurts like hell, and if I hurt it enough, I might realise how fucking stupid I'm being and calm down. I might.

I can't tell if the anger malfunctioning technology stirs in my soul comes from the same place that loves the fucking things when they're working fine. My life-long enthusiasm for video games remains undimmed (as I discovered this week while catching up with the latest version of GTA). New technology remains fascinating, if only in ideal, and current computers free us all from the shackles of geography.

Without modern computers, I wouldn't be able to find out that Bruce Campbell is coming back for new Evil Dead half an hour after it was announced, and I wouldn't be able to write meta-tastic blog posts about that time I punched a box of comics in computer-induced rage, and share them with the world, and anybody who can be bothered reading them.

Thanks to technology, this is the Age Of Communication, where we can all talk to each other, about anything we want. I truly think this is a great thing, demolishing nationalism's toxic propaganda and exposing great injustices on a global scale.

Which is all when and good, but when that enforced patch update has been stuck at 93% for 20 minutes, locking everything on the computer, every piece of tech ever created can go get fucked, I'm pushing for a return to the stone age.

It also drives me crazy because there is no reason for technology to malfunction – all of our tech operates on the most basic binary level, where everything is 'yes/no'. Never 'maybe'.

This is an absolute clarity that Steve Ditko could only dream of. There is something even a little spiritual in the fundamental truth of a binary language, and its clear lines of demarcation.

So I can handle it when a human makes a fuck-up (unless it's intentionally malicious), because humans are these vastly complex creations which sometimes do things for no good reason whatsoever, but computers don't have that freedom, or complexity. They work or they don't. Yes or no. Nothing else.

Again, I don't want to live in a world with computers. They make life easier, and more fun, and more engaging. I use them every day, for both work and pleasure.

But I don't use them for everything, and I never, ever read books or comics or magazines on a device, despite plenty of good arguments for a digital life. It's partly that weird thing of making a pleasantly pointless pastime feel like work, but it's mainly because I just don't trust the technology to always work. Even putting aside battery issues, you still can't beat a printed object for ease of use.

You could take the latest issue of Ultimate Spider-Man and throw it off the Empire State Building, and then run over it in a cab, and then roll it up and kill a wasp with it, and still read the damn thing when you're done, while my friend had an iPad that shut down if you farted in its general direction.

I can't take that kind of aggravation, not with my comics. Comic books are pure pleasure, I can't taint it with my tech issues. I just can't.

So that's why I know my fate, and it's face-down on the desk. I hope it's a long time in the far future, that sees me bursting a blood vessel over the Windows 17.X installation, falling onto a keyboard made of squid or some shit.

Computers that don't work are not worth this kind of aggravation, but it's there, bubbling away. It could be argued that it's a good form of stress release that wouldn't be unleashed in an anti-social situation, but that doesn't make my hand ache any less.

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