“I hate computers”

Not me specifically, I’m more nuanced than that. I’d rather focus my attention on bloaty applications that attempt to ruin my day – spookily all developed by Microsoft.

I am however pretty familiar with the much trotted “Computers are Rubbish” line generally accompanied by a bunch of inventive lies we used to file under the rather superb PEBKAC (Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair) acronym, but I’ve never really understood it.

How can you hate computers? Do you loathe your car, your TV, your phone* or your microwave? Do you haughtily reject the lives saved by computer technology, the democratic power unleashed by the Internet**, the technical endeavour to put a man on the moon or encircle the globe single handed on a boat, or just stripping out repetitive drudgery and – quite important this – giving me a indoor job for all my working life.

People don’t hate computers, they hate being shackled to the Neon Tube, stuck in a electronic rut of a daily grind, dealing with the shit they need to do all buried under some User Interface that can’t read your mind or talk back. Frankly,they should be grateful for people like me that lived in the geeky world before computers became mainstream. We properly suffered; nothing worked very often and when it did it was almost entirely useless and mostly incomprehensible, and essentially we’d have been better off with a pad and few crayons***

But even we pioneers are now on the wrong side Digital divide. Computer technology is embedded to everyone under 30 and they embrace it, love it and mostly don’t even notice it. I watch my kids mash chunks of disparate technology into something ace, understandingly little other than it really is child’s play to them. Which is what they still are and yet technology allows them to be adult, whereas us proper gray people cling onto desperate skills such as being able to type. Like that’s going to help. The world is seemingly increasingly divided into those who live their lives immersed in technology, comfortable in it’s embrace and not at all worried where it might lead go, and everyone else who wonders if this all started when we couldn’t programme the video recorder.

Anyway let’s hope they are right because otherwise that’s our pensions screwed. Actually my division should fade to grey, because my technology savvy is pretty much akin to riding a bike. I know enough to be dangerous and occasionally credible, but I certainly don’t hate everything which defies my 42 year old understanding. Those who wish to be digital hermits really have got it wrong. And worse than that it’s hypocrisy crossed with nostalgia for a better, simpler world that never really existed. They are the poster children of Luddites- smashing the machinery of the industrial revolution while wearing the very stuff ratcheting cheaply off a million power looms.

And even that misses the point. There is this odd perception that humankind is getting more intelligent with every generation and yet this is clearly not the case. More enlightened possibly? I’m not sure about that either. But technology is getting very clever and – here’s the thing – cleverer than us. To hate computers is as pointless as hating rain, we’re powerless to stop the march of technology – we may as well chuck a snowball into an avalanche.

If you are going to the trouble of hating something, make it a worthwhile cause, the BNP, poachers killing the last tigers, world leaders cravenly burning the environment on the altar of developing nations. Humans – yeah we deserve it, but computers are pretty bloody blameless.

* During the 80s pre-pc bunfight, we had a Betamax moment where a great bit of hardware going by the name of the Acorn Atom failed to take the market by storm through a depressing combination of shit logistics, crap marketing and some ginger fuck selling ZX Spectrum’s. There is a direct line from that chipset to the stuff that runs virtually every mobile phone. Not many people know that. Understandable really, as it’s not very interesting

** And not forgetting the no.1 app on that. People used to think there was no money in Porn. How the world has changed.

*** I concede this many be analogous to the “Vista Experience”

4 thoughts on ““I hate computers”

  1. nbt

    oooh, fancy new website! anyway, what I cam here for wasn’;t that, it was this:

    PEBKAC, although it works, is outdated. the new PEBKAC is PICNIC



  2. Tim H

    If it was not for Clive Sinclair + the ZX Spectrum we would never have had the personal transport solution of the future – the C5!

  3. Mike Kaliski

    The Acorn Atom never stood a chance. It was a Rolls Royce being marketed to a public that could barely afford or knew how to drive a used Ford Cortina. The BBC was perceived as being very much a government mouthpiece at the time, so BBC backing didn’t inspire confidence or trust. Apple didn’t triumph with their PC’s and neither did Sir Clive Sinclair with his Quantum Leap. Technical specs don’t sell. You need a ‘mugs eye full’ to attract the punters, as Sir Alan Sugar has repeatedly demonstrated. Considering most users don’t use 90{45ac9c3234d371044e23e276755ef3a4dde8f1068375defba7d385ca3cd4deb2} of the ‘features’ that Microsoft is selling them, perhaps Bill Gates was an apprentice?

  4. Alex

    The Amstrad stuff was horrible tho. Lasted about 10 minutes before catching fire. But while there was the “geeky pound” at work for a while, it soon became clear that form would outrun function. I mean I was the only person in the free world that thought OS/2 was quite clever. But only because it was going to keep me in a job for ever 😉

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