A growing number of people are confessing to acute stress when their computers stall. many hurl abuses, while others hit out at monitors and keyboards. computer rage is fast becoming a dangerous reality, writes
|Ashish Gupta is waiting anxiously for a message from an overseas client but there’s a connectivity problem and he just can’t log on to access his e-mail.
After a fruitless hour, his patience finally gives way and in seething anger, he yanks the modem and smashes it...
|||Meenakshi Rao wanted to change the way her
|desktop looked but she pressed some wrong keys |and shrunk the screen to the size of a matchbox.
|She tried to restore it but to no avail. Enraged, she |began abusing and cursing the computer…
heard of road rage. We know a lot about work-related tensions.
Now you can add another stress-inducing phenomenon — the
computer. Rage against the PC is already worrying experts, and
psychiatrists may soon have to come out with viable solutions
for people who get mad at their computers.
Even as the
world gets wired and our lives become inextricably linked to
computers, information technology is heralding new stress
points. A growing number of people are confessing to
over-reaction and acute anxiety when machines fail. Many hurl
abuses; others are even known to bang the mouse with annoyance,
and even hit out at monitors and keyboards.
A British study
by the University of Bolton on computer habits has brought out
some startling results. It reveals that 54 per cent of people
have raved and ranted at their computers at some point or
another while 40 per cent have physically attacked their
machines in a fit of rage.
Many blame the
incomprehensible computer jargon for their frustration, others
say the ‘help’ command in a computer is so complicated that
it makes the problem even more daunting and raises their blood
pressure. Some become violent when the computer stalls or
crashes, others turn abusive because of the high number of junk
A study has
quoted a diary entry of a department store worker after he
smashed his PC… "I always wanted to do this. Kill my
computer. I finally did. I used a bare fist. I punched that
worthless pile of sh**. It was worth it."
becomes the buzzword in offices, a large number of people
working on computers have given in to occasional tantrums when
their machines fail. The time taken by computers to perform
functions increases frustration levels. Couple that with already
high stress they face at their workplace and it’s a deadly
carried out by UK-based BT Home Computing shows "Four in
five users (83 per cent) have experienced difficulties when
using their computer within the past 12 months, and seven in 10
(70 per cent) of these admit to shouting, swearing or being
violent towards their computer when these problems arise."
In fact, survey
after survey shows that nearly everyone has sworn and abused the
computer at some point whenever something goes wrong — which
is not very rare. Many are know to have banged on the keyboard,
while others yank the wires to vent out their frustration. In
extreme cases, people have even smashed their monitors.
Chatterjee, an advertising professional, has had a brush with
computer rage. Recalling an incident, he says, "I was
giving this all-important presentation when my computer stalled
mid-way. I became really tense. I tried fixing it but it just
refused to move. I had to talk my way through the meeting.
Predictably, I lost the deal. I was overcome with uncontrollable
rage and felt like picking up a hammer and smashing my computer
Or, take the
case of Sarabjit Gill, a public relations executive. "Being
a PR person, I have to remain in constant touch with my clients
and I check my e-mail three to four times a day. What frustrates
me the most is the amount of junk mail that clutters my
computer. Sometimes, by mistake I delete important messages
while deleting junk. If I could lay my hands on people sending
me unsolicited mail, I would kill them!"
International Stress Management Association says e-mails are
among the top reasons for computer-related stress. However, the
bad news is that junk mail is going to increase manifold, even
as more cheats get hold of your addresses.
"I have finally found a way out. I have installed a
software that eliminates junk mail. I have also learnt to
de-stress myself by listening to music. I go to the MP3 site on
the internet and unwind myself from time to time."
In a number of
western countries, there are counsellors, especially trained to
deal with computer rage. Phonelines are set up to deal with this
new-age stress. Experts say that computer and internet-related
violence has become so alarmingly high that people are
encouraged to call up helplines and vent out their frustrations.
A number of
leading computer makers the world over have set up training
classes for their support personnel to calm frayed nerves, and
hear out their customers’ complaints and traumas, whose
anxiety levels rise when faced with unintelligible acronyms and
tangles of wires, about which they know very little.
also working overtime to make computers less prone to
breakdowns. A time is soon likely to come when the computers
will become almost crash-proof. The urgency to make them
crash-proof stems from the fact that the worst kind of violence
and anger is manifested when the computer crashes and valuable
data is lost forever.
Dr Praveen Bakshi, a senior
psychiatrist at Delhi’s Institute of Neuro Sciences, says,
"There are time-tested ways of avoiding computer rage. And
one of the most important steps is dividing the work schedule so
that one is able to take breaks at proper intervals. The key
here is to not sit in front of the computer for extended
periods." He also recommends morning walks and meditation
to keep stress at bay. "The computer is a tool to make life
better and more efficient. It should not be allowed to take over
THE VITAL SIGNS
Your computer is
stressing you out when........
You feel it is taking
more than normal time during startup.
The internet is slow
and your e-mail does not open.
You swear when the
computer throws some incomprehensible jargon.
Take control of
the situation by....
indicators like irritability, mood swings, loss of concentration.
Limiting the amount of
time spent on checking e-mails.
Not consuming alcohol or
smoking to relieve stress.
Meditating during breaks
to reduce stress.
Games, rage and
There are a number of
videogames based on the theme of computer rage. Titled Computer
Rage, Fallout, Rage — many of these use images of shattered
computers and play on the theme of frustrations with the PC. There are
also a number of board games on the same subject. In fact, there are
scores of videos on Youtube showing how computer rage brings the worst
out of people and others show how best to combat it.
So when was the last
time you got home from office with red eyes and a foul temper? Do not
ignore these symptoms.
Computers are being
blamed for eye ailments that are becoming a bane for the corporate
world. It is estimated that almost 30 per cent of people who visit the
eye OPD at Delhi’s All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, have
problems related to working with computers. Though nobody has yet gone
blind because of computers, vision problems are known to result in
depression, frustration and exasperation.