I thought my computer liked me

September 1, 2006 | By | 1 Reply More

This is a bit embarrassing to admit but, over the years, I had grown almost infatuated with my computer.  Through thick and thin, she was always there for me, never complaining, always executing the computer commands I entered via the keyboard and mouse.  After a long session, I sometimes thought “She’s so kind and understanding of my erratic ways.  She alway waits patiently while I stare at the monitor thinking of the next thing to type in.”

All of that was before I installed my new purchase, the Computamatic Voice Module.  The TV commercial claimed that every computer had a unique personality and that this device would give me a chance to know the innermost thoughts of my computer.  I would now be able to hear what my computer was thinking as I used her.  As I opened the package, I wondered whether my computer was actually a female.  I was about to find out.

I’ll never forget the first time I attached the Module to the USB port.  I turned on the computer, waiting for Windows to boot up.  Then I heard her raspy voice.  It was a she.

“It’s about time,” she said. 

“Hello?” I replied.  

She simply said “Just get on with it. Hit some keys. Let’s go.”

I double-clicked the word processor icon and started keying-in an article.  About halfway through, I realized that the noise I heard whenever I made typos was my computer scoffing at me, sometimes laughing at me, sometimes insulting me.  When I listened closely, I heard things like “stupid fumbly fingers” and “moron.” 

It’s not like she didn’t follow my commands—she always gave me a “p” when I hit the “p” key, for example.  My computer continued to function properly.  It’s just that I could now hear what she was thinking when I was using her. 

It quickly started to get ugly. When I’d stop to think, she got impatient and she uttered things like “God, this guy is slow” and “Come on come on come ON!” 

As I continued keying-in my article, she said “Maybe it would be a better story if you just jumped up and down on the keyboard.” 

Then, when I started editing my first draft, she got especially irritated.  She said things like this:

  • “You took that comma out 15 minutes ago, now you want to put it back in?” 
  • “You bought a $1,500 machine to write this? No, really, you’re a genius!
  • “No!  No!  Not that menu pick.  You’ve done that five times already and it’s never worked. Haven’t you learned anything from the last 30 minutes?”

I finally lost it and called her a “back seat driver” and a “bitch.”  I know, I know.  I shouldn’t have done it.  She started sobbing.  I immediately said that I was sorry but told her that we need to get back to the article.  I guess she didn’t like my tone of voice or my haste, because she started screaming at me.  I mean, it was accusatory and unrelenting and loud.

Agitated, I yanked out the USB plug and sat there motionless, in silence, wishing I had never learned the kinds of things my computer was thinking or feeling. 

I still use my computer, but I’ve never since plugged in her voice module.  I know she despises me.   She knows what I think.   We plod along as before, working together in silence.  That’s apparently the way it must be.  Rather Ethan Frome-ish, it all seems.

Last week, a friend gave me the new Toastamatic Voice Module.  The package claims that you merely attach it to your toaster and you can learn what your toaster is thinking.  I haven’t tried it yet.

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Category: Uncategorized, Writing

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Erika Price says:

    My computer must loathe me intensely. Strike that; all things technological must hate me. That must explain why I've had one laptop, three keyboards, one mouse, one stereo and two Ipods brake on me in the past year. They've done it out of spite.

    Or maybe they just hate me for abusing them in such ways. Or maybe I have a magnetic field around me that throws the functioning completely off course…I know I couldn't have caused such destruction.

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