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Computer rage

Posted 09/03/2015 by cgodfrey

Have you ever felt like taking a hammer to your desktop computer or laptop? It might sound extreme to some, but you are among good company. A study as long ago as 2007 showed that 75% of office workers admitted to resorting to physical violence against their computer – one might assume that the remaining 25% only subjected their inanimate work mate to mental abuse. The other side of the coin is, of course, the increasing numbers of people, young and old, who are addicted to their computers, tablet and smart phones.

We have all experienced frustration with software that doesn’t do what the user wants, or decides what it thinks is best for the user – and does it! We have all lost files, either when actually working with them or when we thought that we have saved them, and who hasn’t forgotten to attach a file to an email before sending it into the ether? These experiences and many more lead us into temptation – that desire to ‘take it out’ on someone – or rather something – and the most obvious victim is that computer, tablet of phone.

But Jonathan Wilkins, marketing manager at European Automation, has also looked at the potential rage-inducing aspects of the technology itself, whether it be the monitor or screen, and the way information is displayed, through to potential failures or erratic performance by the touchscreens that are coming to dominate our human-machine interface – the point where we directly interact with our technology.

It could be as simple as screens that are too bright, or lacking in resolution, or the sleep- depriving ‘blue’ light that is currently being highlighted. With touch-screen technology we are all having to come to terms with the possibility of scratches reducing their responsiveness, so we press harder and harder, and our blood pressure creeps higher and higher.

Now some of these things are under our control – we can reduce the brightness of screens, or use screen protectors to protect against scratches, but too often we can make the situation worse rather than better – with screen controls that don’t make sense of protectors that reduce responsiveness even more.

As Wilkins points out: ‘It’s easy to blame computers when things go wrong – at the moment they don’t have the required intelligence or the persuasiveness to defend themselves.’

But just think about the problems and potential for anger, and even violence, if computers do become more intelligent and therefore just like us – perhaps it is time for a ‘Be nice to your computer’ campaign, after all we don’t want to antagonise them further.

Neil Eisberg - Editor

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