Pornographic Oversight

"Some of the 'entertainment' you have on your computer you'd never admit to your shrink -not even by phone! Look at all this stuff [mouse clicks] -where'd you get this? Oh, and by the way, I'm telling everybody!"

Of course, I'd never say this to a client or friend when I discover "adult content" on their computer. But have they considered what would happen if I wasn't discreet? Oddly, they don't.

The very function of society would be disrupted if certain confidential communication weren't protected legally under something called "Privilege." Although states have their own variations, there are several Federal types of privilege: Executive, Attorney-Client, Marital Communications, Physician-Patient and Priest-Penitent.

Frankly, I'm surprised that legislation doesn't exist for "Computer Guy-Client Privilege." This is based on the scads of unquestionably adult content I find saved on the home and office computers I fix -saved by people I'd never suspect of enjoying such "technology."

My clients know that I'm trustworthy. Only one client (savvy in reputation-management) has ever asked me to sign a non-disclosure agreement. The rest are simply lucky that I'm me. A more exploitative computer guy would surely sneak a tiny removable disk from his pocket, copy their "naughty stuff" and then wait for them to win public office so the handsome monthly extortion payments could roll in. But I'd never think of doing that.

What amazes me is that surfers of XXX "imagery" can believe I'll be oblivious to what they've been up to when I examine their computer. To be fair, I accept that malicious spam, spyware and insidious web sites can sometimes hijack a vulnerable computer -forcing it to unintended web sites. But the files generated by these sites are stored in temporary folders used only by the computer -not in folders carefully named and organized by porn star. Purposefulness, in this case, is always obvious.

I'm not here to pass moral judgment. Instead, I'm simply sharing my amusement by the varying reactions of clients and friends to my discovery of "downloaded & saved nudity" on their computers -reactions that are never predictable.

Although there are many, I offer you three basic profiles:

1. Filthy File Forgetters: FFF's are folk that have filed away nasty pictures, forgetting about them until I sit down to fix their computer. When they remember, their eyes grow big then look away from me as if further eye contact would wither them. They stare at the screen, nibbling their lip, as I click the mouse ever faster. They offer nervous laughter at anything I say whether funny or not. Inevitably, they'll try to lure me from the computer so they can quickly Recycle Bin their sin.

2. Presumptive Porn Packers. PPP's haven't forgotten that porn is on their computer, but they presume I won't find it. With minimal cunning they bury the photos inside folders intentionally misnamed "legal docs" or "religious music" (clever, eh?). While I work, they lean back in their chair with confidence that their "dirt" is hidden. When a quick search for all .jpg .mpg and .avi files plasters their shortcomings onto the screen in seconds they sit up straight in their chair. If it's a man he'll usually start winking at me (which I interpret as either an invitation to keep a secret or just an embarrassment-triggered eye twitch -I can't always tell). I find that most female PPP's will feign shock then deflect blame.

3. Adult-Addiction Admitters My favorite folk are AAA's. These people realize that I'll discover their porn stash as quickly as their plumber discovered what they tried to flush. So in a preemptive move, they pull me to the hallway to confess, "Geoff, you might see some, uh, you know, uhhh pictures, I umm..."

"That's OK. I don't care -I'll work around them," I'll interrupt. After profusely thanking me, half of all AAA's mistake my failure to judge them as interest in seeing what they have. So they offer to burn me a CD.

Look, your mom knew that you took the cookie. Your teacher knew that you crammed for the test. Your dentist knows if you've been flossing. And I know what you've been looking at. Don't worry; I'll keep it in the closet. I'll file it under Computer Guy-Client Privilege.

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