Lucas Hinch may have become a new international hero.
Granted, few of us have ever met the Colorado Springs man. But he managed to seize his 15 minutes of fame recently after his computer gave him one battle too many. Mr. Hinch, of course, dealt with his frustrations in a mature and responsible way.
Oh, who am I kidding? He took the computer into an alley, pulled a gun and put eight rounds into it.
I’ll wait a few moments for the cheering to die down.
Naturally, I’m not endorsing this as a method. Spontaneous gunfire is rarely a solution to anything, including the latest televised adventures of the Rockies’ bullpen. (Pillows are the traditional projectile for a television screen bearing bad sports news, at least in the case of my late grandfather-in-law.) But I think anyone who has ever spent more than five minutes staring at a Blue Screen of Death can sympathize entirely with Mr. Hinch.
For my wife Heather, it’s a no-brainer. More than once, she has intoned the magic words “Scotty, I’m throwing this thing out the window!” after our machine of the moment ate a college research paper due in an hour … or dropped a connection in the middle of an online game … or simply got its power button stuck, requiring fingernails worthy of Dolly Parton to pry back into operation.
She never did commit that act of electronic defenestration, by the way. But I think that had less to do with sweet reason, and more to do with chronic illness and the annoyance of putting up new storm windows.
How do so many of us reach that point?
That may seem as obvious as asking whether I-25 will be a pain in the neck tomorrow. But it’s a valid question. Certainly, computers have become vital to our day-to-day life. But not every critical aspect of our life tempts a 9mm sonata.
The answer, I think, comes down to communication.
The other day, I saw a bumper sticker in the grocery store parking lot: “If animals could speak, we would all be vegetarian.” Whether you agree or not, it underlines a larger philosophical point – it’s harder to hate something that has become real to you, that has a face and a voice and a genuine response. It’s why prejudices sometimes wither when an “other” is met personally, or why a famous personality may seem to be so much nicer when met face-to-face.
And, on the flip side, it’s why our blood pressure goes through the roof when communication is hopeless.
The best example may be road rage. If someone accidentally walks into your path on the sidewalk, the most likely response is a quick apology, maybe even an embarrassed laugh. Come just a little close while driving and the results are screams and angry horns. It’s not just the higher speeds and masses of metal, it’s the fact that we no longer have another person in our midst – just a metal box that’s impervious to our hard feelings.
I don’t know how to solve PC rage, short of giving the machine actual reasoning abilities – and that way lies Skynet, or at least a future where humanity never wins at Jeopardy! again. But it does suggest a way to lower the pressure in so many other areas of our lives. Talk. Listen. See the faces around you, not just their positions on the landscape.
We don’t have to agree. But if we can at least see each other as human beings worthy of attention, the rest can follow. Maybe we can even find some common interests to share.
And if those interests include a recalcitrant laptop and a pair of sledgehammers, I’ll be over in five minutes.