For me family gatherings such as Christmas, Easter and weddings are less about spending time with relatives you haven’t seen for a long time and more about fixing their computers. As someone who works in the IT industry I have long been requested to have a look at and fix computers of relatives, friends and complete strangers.
I have spent many frustrated hours in front of an aging computer riddled with spyware, viruses and general funkiness while the anxious owner watches on and offers their apologies as we both stare at their dial-up modem willing it to download faster. Early on this riled me so much that I would get pretty obstinate and deny any knowledge of how to fix computers – “I’m a Solution Architect, not a Help Desk jockey. I have two degrees!” I would proclaim in arrogant frustration.
People outside the IT industry have little understanding of the myriad different roles and breadth of skills that it contains. Not everybody involved in aerospace is a rocket engineer.
“But you work with computers don’t you?” would come the hopeful reply. Sure, but so does anyone who works indoors, so by that logic couldn’t I also be an expert in city planning, human resources or banking?
As I’ve gotten older and wiser I’ve mellowed and now offer my services to an inner circle. As the years have gone by I’ve witnessed grown men accumulate multiple laptops as they are unable to make the emotional decision to part with the old one. “This one I use for my internet banking, and this one is for my photos” seemingly unaware that they can use the same portable device for many activities. First world problems defined – too many laptops to maintain! And the root cause of all their problems is they use both those laptops for browsing dodgy porn sites.
After applying updates, correcting settings and replacing crapware with better alternatives I’m left to drop awkward hints like “If you use this browser in this mode, you won’t have as many problems with popups and all those strange adult sites appearing in your browsing history for no reason at all”.
So why the more benevolent attitude? Maybe it’s the realisation of that line from Spider-Man – with great power comes great responsibility. Or a sense of guilt that I am part of an industry that has made computing too hard for the average person. Or maybe it’s just the reward of having other people find all the dirtiest websites for me. Safe browsing people, embrace it.