• Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
sunshine & unicorns: a blog about love, learning, and life in the upper midwest

24 January 2010


I have long wanted this shirt.

Because of this phenomenon. The tagline for that comic is "If someone asks you for computer help, pretend you're dumber than a sack of hamburgers."

Send that comic to anyone you know that has an kind of tech-related job. They may laugh, but they're crying on the inside, because it's true. So. True.

My mom has said it before, and she'll say it again: "It's great to have a geek in the family."

And if we get a call from any family member, there are very good odds that it's because something is wrong with their computer. Or their Internet. Or their printer. Or their iPod. I'd bet money on tech-troubles being the reason for the call: the odds are that good.

Am I complaining here? Not necessarily, mostly just trying to be informative (by the way, I've been buried in IRB proposal form-writing all morning, so please excuse my less-than-lucid prose today).

A lot of computer problems our families have are because of stuff we got them into in the first place. I doubt my parents would have wireless Internet if we hadn't set it up for them. The Pink In-Laws wouldn't need help with their new computer if we hadn't encouraged them to get one. Etc. So we're obligated to help in those cases. Also, it's our parents. We don't want their Internet to suck or their software to be inaccessible. So yeah. Parents kind of fall in a separate category from other people.

But I guess what gets me is the urgency factor of the requests of others. I won't regale you with tales of how busy we are. You know it. Our families and friends know it too. Once the semester starts, we kind of crawl in to our caves built of textbooks and PDFs and projects, only to poke our heads out when there's a holiday at which we must make an appearance.

But when someone's got a computer problem, who do they call? Multiple times? On a Friday night? And then send some texts when you don't answer? Ugh. There's no way out of it either. Once you've fixed one person's computer, you're bound to fix everyone else's. Because that one person will tell the others what a GREAT JOB YOU DID AND HEY YOUR COMPUTER SUCKS JUST CALL THE PINK H'S AND THEY CAN FIX IT RIGHT AWAY! THEY LOVE REMOVING SPYWARE AND CALIBRATING BATTERIES AND SURELY ARE NOT BUSY OR ANYTHING! It sucks when your computer's broken. I get that. But if you can't fix it yourself, and don't want to pay someone to fix it, you're gonna have to wait till your friendly neighborhood family geek has time.

Next time you have a computer problem and are considering calling your family geek (maybe a cousin, or a niece?), consider this. That person probably gets paid $20-$50 an hour for whatever they do in the tech world. They're not accustomed to working for free, and the odds are that their job does not directly involve fixing computers and networking stuff (unless their job is actually helpdesk/technical support). And most tech people do not LIKE computer problems; they simply have a skill that allows them to fix these problems. They are probably not sitting around their house hoping you'll call and ask them to remove the malware from your computer because you clicked on all those .exe files your friend forwarded to you.

Does that mean they won't help you? Of course it doesn't. We help our families because they are our families, and because we are decent and guilt-ridden schmucks who would hate to see our families/friends get wallet-raped by Geek Squad or whomever.

But doing computer dirty work is not our idea of how to spend the precious little free time we have. So it'd be nice if people knew that and took it in to consideration.

Cupcakes and bottles of wine are nice, for example.