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Why Can’t They Make Computers That Don’t Crash?


People are relying more and more on computers, cell phones, and other gadgets for business or for fun. But the dependence on technology has not necessarily made life easier, as more and more people experience "computer rage."

The images can be amusing - smashed computers, charred mouse’s, crushed keyboards. But often the anger behind the destruction is very real, a condition psychologists call "computer rage."

Experts say as people become increasingly dependent on technology at work, school, and in their personal lives, a malfunctioning computer is not just a nuisance, its the enemy.

Dr. Kent Norman, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Maryland, says people are becoming increasingly "married" to their computers, and feel betrayed when they break or crash.

His laboratory has created an online, multi-language survey to track the condition. He shares the findings, "Ten percent of males have hit a computer, about 20 percent have hit their monitor and broken their computer, 80 percent of users claim that they have cursed their computers. Generally males tend to be more physically aggressive, maybe 50 percent more."

The professor himself has had occasion to demolish a computer. Of his experience he says, "Computers are just machines, so if you do some physical damage to it, that's ok. But the problem with rage is that it can be undirected...you might hit the person next to you, you might go home with this rage and your really upset so you get mad at your wife and kids."

The growth of computer-induced anger has also spawned a new industry, computer technicians, such as the "Geek Squad" who will come to your home or business 24 hours a day, to try and retrieve lost data or revive an inactive machine.

Experts say there are many steps that can be taken to help prevent the mistakes that lead to computer rage. This includes backing up files and saving information, often.

But, Dr. Norman says there is only one sure way to fight computer rage."Why can't computer companies actually build a computer and an operating system that does not crash? Ever?"

Dr. Norman suggests remaining calm and stepping away from a computer if a crisis comes up. If this fails, he says keep some extra equipment on hand, just in case.

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