10/27/2010

Why I Hate Computers

I should begin by honestly acknowledging that these words represent something of a contradiction on my part. Although they are taking shape on the glowing screen of an HP Pavilion laptop, and will soon be posted on the Internet, I am obliged to admit that I hate computers. I use a computer only when I must, which nowadays means that I use one almost constantly. I use a computer to write, to learn of daily happenings in the outer world, and to stay in touch with my family and my friends, but I frequently do so with an underlying trace of regret that tends to lessen the element of happiness and satisfaction in those activities.

I actually would prefer to be using a manual typewriter, as I did in my younger days. One can become attached to a typewriter, with its noisy action of directly imprinting words on sheets of paper, but one cannot become attached to a computer. (It does not help that computers generally are designed by awkward people who are totally removed from the usual demands of the everyday world.) I strongly resisted using a computer for as long as I could, but the force of necessity finally induced me to surrender, several years after everyone else already had taken to computers for work and leisure. It seemed that I had no choice in the matter. It was a case of either give in, and accept the tyranny of current technology, or be left behind in a bygone age. I still am not entirely certain that I did the right thing.

The common understanding in regard to computers is that they are unerring devices of firm logic. In my own experience, I always have found that nothing could be further from the truth. Using a computer is somewhat akin to being a passenger on a train that has no driver. One can never be in full confidence of reaching the intended destination. At any moment things can, and most assuredly will, go seriously wrong with a computer, usually without any waring. Programs suddenly freeze, or cease to do what they are meant to do, resulting in the loss of documents and information. Hard drives regularly burn out and software repeatedly fails. As soon as one bug is fixed, a dozen more bugs quickly appear. On the Internet, websites can fall apart or vanish completely, all in the blink of an eye.

The more that we choose to rely on computers, and the more that we put our trust in them, the more we become their helpless slaves, and the more we lose vital pieces of ourselves, thereby increasing our potential for fatal danger. Whenever I pause to reflect on the hidden computers which have been granted control over the many thousands of nuclear weapons that continually threaten the existence of our world, I am compelled to fear deeply for the future of mankind. We have foolishly, and quite hazardously, allowed our collective fate as human beings to be rendered woefully dependent on the bloodless power and coldhearted reasoning of electronic contrivances that are, in their essence and in their performance, totally unreliable.