Sunday, August 28, 2005

Love/Hate Relationships with Computers

Unfortunately, this week in cyberspace was a rather frustrating one. Within the course of a 24 hour period, I had to call tech support at HP to get my daughter's new printer set up in her dorm room, at Apple to get my wireless mouse working, and at Epson to fix the poor print quality of my R800 printer. Then the brand new Creative speaker system for my daughter's dorm computer didn't speak, and the turntable my other daughter bought on eBay didn't turn.

On the optimistic side, I like to think a useful lesson can be learned from these experiences. This week led me to speculate about how there are at least three types of love/hate relationships with computers:

1. Love to use them; hate to fix them: I imagine many people fall into this category. They love using computers to write, gather and organize information, shop, do video and digital photography, communicate online, etc. However, they don't want to have to fix them when something goes wrong. They get annoyed, frustrated, or even very upset when faced with a software or hardware problem. An analogy might be people who love driving and car trips, but don't want to be bothered by car mechanics or fixing a breakdown. Some people in this category might actually know something about computer technology and possess some skills in fixing a problem. They just don't like doing it.

2. Love to use and fix them: This is a fortuitous and probably somewhat unusual combination. These people often possess an intrinsic interest in computer technology. At one end of this category are people who use the computer for specific productive purposes, as well as tackle breakdowns with energetic motivation and even delight. At the other end are people whose primary focus is exploring and fiddling with the technology itself. While they may use the computer to accomplish some tasks, those tasks might actually be a means to an end - the "end" being the delight in playing with computer technology.

3. Hate them, period. These people want nothing to do with computers. Their hate might be a cover up for ignorance and fear. They may not understand computers. They may believe they are not up to the challenge of using them. In Luddite fashion, they may believe computers are creating more problems for society than they solve. I suspect this group is dwindling rather quickly. A decade from now, only rebels, eccentrics, outcasts, and perhaps a few bonafide visionaries might find themselves in this group.

7 Comments:

Blogger StarMe said...

LOL! The relationships are probably a little more complicated than that - after all, I love to fix PC's [I]when I can[/I]! I'm a student, really interested in cyberpsychology and my searches tend to lead to you :) I've downloaded your book (but haven't read it yet). I thought you might like to check out my forum, [url]www.cyberpsychology.proboards58.com[/ulr]. It's mostly for non-mainstream psych. Anyway, thanks for your work, I look forward to reading it.

7:09 AM  
Blogger StarMe said...

Apologies. I am an idiot. Next time I'll preview before I post...

7:10 AM  
Blogger John Suler said...

Nice set of forums! Good luck with them.... Relationships always get more complex when you start examining them in detail. I'd bet that many of them are variations on those three themes.

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