My blog contains a large number of posts. A few are included in various other publications, or as attached stories and chronicles in my emails; many more are found on loose leaves, while some are written carelessly in margins and blank spaces of my notebooks. Of the last sort most are nonsense, now often unintelligible even when legible, or half-remembered fragments. Enjoy responsibly.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Why Aren’t Computers Better?

I’m tired of having to fight my computer to get it to do what I believe that it should do automatically. And there is absolutely no good excuse for it. If anything else was this temperamental or troublesome, you would learn to do without it. For instance, if you purchased a microwave at Sears, took it home, spent 12 hours removing useless parts and adding essential things that didn’t come with it, you would be livid if you attempted to finally use it and received the error message “cannot compute potato” when you tried to pop a bag of popcorn. Immediately you would tear the microwave out of the wall, do 90mph back to Sears, and pummel the sales clerk to death while screaming, "I only wanted a fucking bag of popcorn!!!!" But we don’t. We accept computer problems as some sort of strange quirk to the privilege of owning a machine that lets us do the technologically advanced task of communicating with each other.

This isn’t anything new either. From the very beginning, both the PCs and Macs required users to spend countless hours installing, repairing, rebuilding, and upgrading both their software and hardware just so that their computer was the equivalent of a phone, calculator, or pen and paper. And before someone out there starts in with the increased speed argument, let me remind you of the wasted, precious days you spent trying to get that increased speed to actually work. I believe that if you averaged out all of the time that you’ve spent fighting with your computer versus the time that it would have taken to do whatever it was manually, you would have saved time never learning how to turn your computer on. But those were the good old days where computers resembled frontloading washing machines, yet weren’t as useful. If a single computer had managed something like getting the stain out of a shirt, it would have been hailed as a miracle, canonized, and reproduced into small statues for all of us to worship.

Now we cannot do without them. Endless information is available at any hour with only a few keystrokes, you can contact almost anyone anywhere, and everything from having your finances automatically managed to performing remote surgery on a needy patient can all be done from the convenient little screen in front of you. Yet they are still the same unreliable pieces of crap that we’ve always had. It’s like they’ve learned to bribe us with information so that we will live with their faults. We’ve traded our lives for Myspace quizzes, useless Wikipedia information, and joke emails that really aren’t that funny.

I have learned that there is no difference between our bond with computers and long-term domestic abuse. The more computers abuse us, the more we think that we deserve it for asking too much of them. We want them to treat us better, but understand that if this is what it takes, we’re willing to sacrifice. And if not, we will wait patiently and hope that someday we will meet a nice computer who knows how to treat us with equal love and respect.

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