Frustrations with a slow computer

Sometimes frustrations are more bearable when shared. And who knows, we might also learn something from them if we try to put them into words. Take, for example, the case of a ridiculously slow, old computer. I’m sure you know what I mean. Look this up on the Internet and you get thousands of how-to instructions telling you how to make the damn thing faster. Re-install this, exchange that, buy more memory chips.
you will hardly find anything about the frustration itself. It isn’t deemed worthy of their concern, it is below their level to mingle with the psychology of needless “stuff” (they call everything stuff). Only progress, improvements, continuous change, movement, dynamis, is worth noting. Dwelling, basking in, going back, stretching your legs, stills, stasis – is scary for them. Ironically, they are mentally blocked in the period when they got their first acne and more or less spontaneous erections.

Our frustrations with this stuff are natural. They are to be treated as part of our lives and I want people to find something if they search for the experience of an excruciatingly slow computer. Isn’t the Internet all about the diversity of experiences? Or am I naive? Is it more about the homogeneity of experiences, about reducing every experience to some category large enough to have sufficient identical experiences? Consumers-producers of media, up- and downloading perpetually. That is the official picture. Isn’t that beautifully democratic?

I like to write this, it doesn’t have a beginning or an end, it isn’t marketable, we don’t underline the links to point at commercial ventures, it’s just words, words that are going to say something about the frustration of working with a darn slow computer. It is like every click costs something. Every click takes 5, 10, or even 30 seconds before the computer reacts and hence becomes a commitment. Taking up a significant amount of time during which the hard-disk is rattling, the fan spinning, and the screen frozen, these clicks also have a monetary value for people doing work on their computers.

Every click counts. That computer experience seems to be the opposite of what is promoted by them, the opposite of the total-control paradigm of man in charge of the machine. And here we see another interesting paradox. It is the slow responsiveness of my machine that prevents me from taking it for granted. It keeps me conscious about my relationship to the thing, and forces me to make real decisions before I click on any icon or link. And while I wait for the computer to respond, copy some files, or open an Internet browser, I have planned to do something else, like writing a poem. In this sense, am I not more in control of the machine than someone who has accustomed themselves to immediate response and would be quite desperate if their computer would suddenly behave differently?

This was about a frustration I experience every day, and that I have given a little place in my life. Remember, I am anti-consumerist so I won’t buy a new machine any time soon. Perhaps my message to the reader is that it’s a good idea to try and incorporate your old technology in your life, build rituals around it, cherish its limitations, instead of following the herd.

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Published by

Kamiel Choi

Dutch philosopher and poet, sometimes sharing thoughts on the internet.

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