I Hate That I Love It

I thought these computer worms that have been plaguing us lately would be the last straw in my computer frustration. They are the most recent reminder that Windows has inherent problems that can ruin your privacy, frustrate you beyond your wildest imagination and, indeed, shut your business down if you depend on it. Like many, I often threaten to throw my computer out the window in moments of anger. But I never actually follow through. Why?

I think I'm caught in a severely dysfunctional and addictive relationship with my computer. And it has slowly but surely become a codependent situation like you've never seen. Things just aren't like they used to be between my computer and me. Early on, the mere thought of spending time with my computer would make my palms sweat with anticipation and excitement. I enjoyed watching the boot-up screens. I turned it off each evening, cleaned the monitor and keyboard, and even added a fresh new photo for a desktop background. After doing so it just seemed zippier for the next few days -almost as though it was thanking me -almost! I bought the best new software for it and if it didn't like it I would uninstall the "problematic software" immediately. If my computer had a temper tantrum and began to stubbornly ignore me I'd coax and coax it with its favorite keys, then give in by rebooting it with a smile. "Oh, I must have done something," I rationalized. Everything about our relationship was new. My computer could do no wrong! It really was a good-looking system too. It had a large, pretty "Reset" button right on the front -you couldn't miss it.

I remember the first time I showed my computer to my parents. "Impressive, son, but how long do you think it will last?" I wasn't surprised; they must have thought it wouldn't work out. They'd seen so many others come and go quickly.

My "Mac friends" would warn me that my PC had issues and to be careful. I knew they were only jealous. "Hey, if there are no issues, how can I improve my skills?" I continued to rationalize.

Over time my patience has shrunk with each new computer problem (including the worms seen in the news lately). But the thrill I get when my computer does for me exactly what I want is a high that temporarily blinds me to all the crap it gave me moments before. It's a cruel unending cycle of love and hate and then love again. When it's bad, it's horrible and when it's good, oh baby it's fantastic. Is this worth putting up with a relationship that is doomed to have those constant problems that make us vulnerable to lost data and wasted time?

I've seen individual businesses lose thousands of dollars per minute because of computer problems. I've seen thousands of pages of typed data (diaries, resumes, love notes, contracts etc.) lost in an instant because a computer froze, blinked or was struck by a virus that used a defect in Windows to attack it. Sure, people scream about the lack of computer stability and reliability but no one seems prepared to revert to the pens, paper and typewriters that don't crash.

So why do we stay in this hot and cold relationship with our PC's? No other tool can help you work more efficiently, automatically keep track of all your contacts, help you look good to the boss, put you in touch with a loved one (by fax, email or video), automatically choose and play your favorite music, remind you of bill payments, show you spectacular photos of your vacation, help you meet someone special, handle the accounting for your business flawlessly and amaze you with the world's newest technology like a computer can. In fact, I can't find a button for one of those feats on any of my other home appliances!

Even though I think I've installed more Windows patches from Microsoft than all the other software on my computer combined, each day I must hope it works properly for more time than it doesn't. Usually it does. But if it doesn't, it's probably something I did. It wants to improve. I just have to give it some time.

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