There’s something about computers that brings out the worst in us. And there’s something about retaliatory violence against these boxes of frustration that makes (many of) us cheer from a place deep inside.
Computer rage is a real thing; there’s a whole section on it in my book proposal about The Restless Project. You know where I’m going with this. A Colorado Springs man named Lucas Hinch was arrested this week for challenging his desktop computer to an old-fashioned duel.
According to The Smoking Gun, he said, “I just had it,” and mentioned something about the “blue screen of death.” So he killed the computer by pumping eight bullets into it. The police blotter entry reads “Man Kills His Computer.” Finch discharged his weapon within city limits, which was a violation. A court date awaits him, where a judge will decide his penalty. Don’t be surprised if the judge applauds.
One of the most popular stories I’ve ever written involved a dad shooting his daughter’s laptop, and filming the execution, as a public form of punishment. (That execution also took eight bullets). The story caught fire because it captured how many parents feel about their kids’ gadgets. Finch’s tale might not reach the same dizzying TODAY heights, but I won’t be surprised if he gets 15 minutes out of it.
Why? Because computer rage is a very, very real thing. Inspired by a viral set of videos posted online showing half-crazed users smashing, crashing, throwing, slamming, or otherwise inflicting pain on their computers, Professor Kent Norman of the University of Maryland coined the term “computer rage” about 10 years ago. In a survey, he got some half-crazed people to fess up to their acts of techno-violence. Here’s some of what they told him. Don’t judge. Only those who’ve never thrown a gadget should cast a stone.
“I ruin computer desks and chairs venting outrage. Throwing computer mice around also helps… Sometimes I headbutt the monitor screen.”
“Run the ******* over with my truck!”
“Poured gasoline on a computer and set fire to it.”
“One time I took a linksys router out to my driveway, smashed it open with a hammer, covered (soaked) the inside with WD-40, and lit the sucker on fire. It burned for quite a while. I took pictures and sent them to linksys and told them how angry I was that their tech support wouldn’t give me answers.”
“I name my computers, and I use their names pretty much only when I’m mad at them. When my old computer, Charles, use to be bad..I’d yell, but then I tried giving him hugs instead.”
“I scream at my computer because I know that it hears me and is laughing at me.”
Have you ever done any of these things? Have you ever dreamed about it? If your answer is no, you really need to get more in touch with your feelings.
I kid, but I’m serious. Computer frustration is special kind of angry. It contributes to high blood pressure, vision problems, and even family issues. That’s why it’s an important part of The Restless Project.