There’s nothing worse than when technology fails you. Unfortunately I’ve had my fair share of failures, to name a few, my hard drive crashed (losing everything), my mouse/laptop touch pad spazzed out, the power adapter plug into my computer stopped working and totally ruined my one week past its warranty laptop, my cell phone (not even a smart phone, gasp!) no longer receives texts sent to more than one person and no longer is able to send or receive pictures, and three broken cameras. At this point one would assume that I am an irresponsible technology user, and that I don’t take proper care of my precious devices. But that’s not the case, at least I don’t think it is. No one ever really taught me how to take care of a computer. I just kind of figured it out, a combination of common sense, scoldings from my dad, and things that I think I heard at some point from someone. I am generally a very responsible person, so all signs point to “its not my fault.” It’s all my laptop/cellphone/camera’s fault. In my past four years at college, each year I have faced some tragic crisis with my PC, but I have yet to be able to justify forking over a big hunk of my checking account to pay for an apple computer. That shit is expensive, and on a students budget, completely unreasonable. But I am right on the verge of making that unreasonable decision to abandon the inexpensive world of HP and Dell and transition to the shiny, happy, expensive world of Apple. After my last experience, I’ve had enough. I’ve had to deal with the emotional turmoil of the incredibly frustrating tech support, geek squad, customer service, “restore to factory settings” experience one too many times. But in the process I have become an expert at identifying the five stages of technology failure.
1. Denial: When the problem first starts, the initial emotional response is denial. You pretend there is nothing wrong. You struggle to finish writing your paper, going about your business, refusing to acknowledge the problem. Subconsciously you tell yourself, this can’t be happening, I don’t deserve this. You hope that if you pretend the problem isn’t there, it will disappear. But it doesn’t go away. You try restarting your computer once or twice, because that usually fixes things, right? But alas, the problem doesn’t go away, it actually seems to be getting worse, past the point of denial.
2. Worry: Once you get beyond the initial denial, anxiety sets in and you start to really worry about the future of your computer. Thoughts like “is this really happening?” and “Will I be able to fix this” run through your mind all day. But this is a practical kind of worry, where you run through worst case scenarios, making yourself sick with the idea of losing everything on your computer, but still hopeful of what Sharon- your helpful HP tech support agent- can coach you through over the phone. This is what I call solution oriented worrying. You’re calling your tech-y friend, finding a ride to the nearest computer repair place, calling the tech support line. You foresee emotional strife and lots of wasted time, but still see the potential for a solution. This doesn’t last long.
3. Panic: Stage three is when the practical worry you experienced is transformed into full fledged panic. This usually happens mid call to your tech support agent. After loading drivers, shutting down, restarting, tune-ups, backing up files, you lose hope. You begin to feel that no matter what you do, nothing will fix the problem, and nothing will bring my laptop back to its fully functioning state. This loss of hope often goes hand in hand with the extremely unhealthy process of attaching the state of your emotional health to the health of your computer. Your laptop is transformed from a useful device that assists you in school and work, to everything you’ve ever loved. This computer is your life. You feel that all that’s important in the world rests on the future of your computer. It’s value becomes magnified and you see it slipping away. Panic sets in as you envision your life without your computer. But this is soon to be followed by something much worse.
4. Rage: After two and a half fruitless hours on the phone, panic subsides only to be replaced by extreme anger. You curse the HP gods for sending you a faulty computer. As patient and helpful as Sharon over at HP tech support is, you begin to hate her. You hate her calm, accented voice. You hate her polite suggestions, ‘Please turn off your computer, miss, thank you, miss” It’s despicable really, what she’s done to you. Filled you with all this false hope, at first you believed that Sharon could really help you, but it’s apparent that her confidence and helpfulness was all bullshit. She has no idea what the hell is wrong with your computer, and she’s just making all this crap up. Your hatred isn’t just directed at Sharon. You hate your computer, you don’t even want it anymore. How could my pretty little HP go off and do this to me. You feel betrayed and pissed off. You did me dirty, HP, and you’re going to pay for it, you think. I’m going to type those keys so hard, I’m going to eat a granola bar over you and let the crumbs settle in all your nooks and crannies, I am going to quadruple click on every one of your buttons, its become an abusive relationship.
5. Peace (?): The end to the emotional stages of technology failure is peace, either in recovery or replacement. This is sometimes difficult to achieve, especially with a negative outcome. It’s easy to get stuck at rage. I always look back on my time with my old Dell computer with a tinge of extreme rage at its untimely demise. But I’ve recovered since then, and have been able to achieve peace in my most recent forays into technological failure and recovery. But this peace is tempered by the realization that so much of my life revolves around a silly computer. Its embarrassing, actually, how reliant I am on technology. As a student, I can’t go a few hours without access to a computer. A break from access to a functioning computer, has given me some perspective. Maybe I should rely a little less on my computer for my life, and relocate the value I place on my computer to something of actual importance in the big scheme of things.