I recently bought a new laptop. Like most new relationships, the one with my new MacBook Air was beautiful the first couple of weeks. It was light, shiny, and fast.
Then Monday, our quick courtship ended without warning. It didn’t just crash, it shut down and refused to come back on. I plugged the charger in, tried again, nothing. I waited, pushed the power button down, holding it for several seconds...still nothing.
My technology failed me.
Let the fuming begin.
I called the Mac store where I purchased my $1,500 machine and was soon talking to another machine. It didn’t take three questions before I was screaming for someone human to help.
“OPERATOR, OPERATOR! ZERO! ZERO! LET ME TALK TO SOMEONE ALIVE!” I yelled.
“I do not understand what you want.” It answered.
“Of course you don’t! YOU’RE A MOTHER FLIPPING COMPUTER! And your computers don’t work!” I yelled back, as if the talking computer cared.
“Please hold and I’ll transfer you to someone who can help you.” It responded.
And then I was transferred. To someone in INDIA.
“Hi! Do you have the serial number for your Mac product?” the woman in India asked in a thick accent.
“What? No. Why would I have my serial number?” I answered rudely.
“Well, do you have the box your product came in?” She responded.
“No, because I bought a Mac and they’re not supposed to break three weeks after you buy them!” I said a little too sharply.
I finally asked the woman if she would just make me a Genius Bar appointment at my local Mac store, choking on the word Genius as if kids with six weeks of computer operations training qualified them as geniuses.
When I arrived at the store, the “geniuses” took one look at my computer and freaked out on my behalf, shocked they too couldn’t get it to come back on, and handed me a brand new machine.
It worked out in the end, but this whole incident got me thinking: Why is it when technology doesn’t work the way it should, it pisses us off like nothing else? I mean I see red when my phone quits, or my computer needs to restart. And in my previous life on TV, I saw plenty of doors slammed, and four letter tirades when a machine breaks.
Maybe broken technology plays into some of our deepest fears. And here's eight reasons why:
1. Technology is an irreplaceable part of your everyday life. When the cell phone breaks, you can't go grab the extension in the kitchen. If you forgot to hit save, there's hours of work you will never get back. It freaks you out to suddenly lose the thing you spend most of your time with.
2. 99% of the time technology works so well you don’t even know it’s there. This is one of those, you don’t miss it until it’s gone kind of things. When it stops working, you’re faced with the reality of just how much it impacts your life.
3. You have no control over why it crashes. For some of us, we love nothing more than control. Especially when we’re surrounded by things we can’t control, we grab tightly to what we think we can keep in order and following our commands. A crashed computer makes us feel weak. Feeling weak sucks.
4. More than likely, you can’t fix it yourself. Most of the time, you don’t know what is wrong with it, or how to fix it. There’s nothing you can do, but rely on someone else’s expertise. When you’ve got deadlines, relying on someone else is irritating beyond measure.
5. It’s often expensive to fix. If it’s not under warranty, technology ain’t cheap to fix. Just ask anyone who’s dropped their iPhone. That’s $200 just to replace a screen! Losing money causes people to lose their mind.
6. It’s a bad surprise. Most people like fun surprises, but all people hate bad surprises. You’ve got your day planned out to the minute. You don’t have time to drive to the mall, find parking, and wait at that dang Genius Bar for someone to finally tell you, “Yup. It’s broken.”
7. You’re Powerless. No matter how many times you smoosh the ON button or throw that keyboard, your technology won’t work. You can’t threaten it, beg it, plead with it, or promise it your first born. Being powerless to change something is enough to warrant a small projectile to be thrown across the room.
8. Plays into fears of betrayal. This one is hard to admit, but when something promises to be there for you, to send your emails and update your Twitter page, and then it doesn’t, you feel duped and misled. Betrayal stings. Swiping a credit card is an act of trust. In technology and all things beyond, anger is the emotion easiest to feel when your trust is broken.