I am writing this post at the request of my co-workers. This morning when I came into the office, my co-workers were talking about how our video server was being obstinate. My reply was, “You must romance it into submission.” This was met with confused looks. So, I was obliged to present my Theory Of Technology Romance. My hypothesis is as follows: The more adversarial and impatient you are toward technology, the more problems it will present you. Shower your technology with love, kindness and affection, romance it, and you will have your technology eating out of the palm of your hand. Well, not eating, but printing out your copies, sending your epic text message when you have one bar of service or generally submitting to your will. Love your technology and it will love you back. After the jump, some tips for how to do this.
1. Start a dialogue with your technology. Conversations with inanimate objects are equally as important as those with animate ones. Especially the conversations your have with the essential pieces of technology in your life. You use them all the time, so it’s important to develop a good report with them. Are you yelling at your slow internet server? Pounding the copy machine and calling it stupid? Spouting expletives at your iPhone? Stop. Back it up. Is this how your would talk to someone you love, someone who does so many things for you? No! Screaming at your technology only inspires it to scream back. Only your flat screen TV can’t scream, so it’s just going to stop recording all your DVR’d shows instead. Passive aggressive? Maybe. But seduction is the name of this game. Flattery will get you everywhere with your technology. If it’s acting up, try the more compassionate approach. “Bad mood today? Want to talk about it? What’s going on with you? Can I help?” If it’s behaving as you want it to, try praising your technology to reinforce the desired behavior. “”Do you know how happy you make me when you’re running your programs all at once without freezing?” Opening up a dialogue with your technology is the first step to getting it to do what you want.
2. Don’t scold. Nobody likes to be shamed when they make a mistake. Technology is no exception. I discovered this when I was a teacher and had to make hundreds of copies daily on a Xerox machine that was forever on the fritz. The copier must have known it had seen better days, it probably even felt embarrassed that its inner mechanisms couldn’t turn out copies the way it did when it was younger. Yet, every day, teachers stormed the copy room with really high expectations of Xerox, screaming at it when it didn’t deliver. When it would jam, and it always would (no wonder with all that pressure!), I would make sure to say something nice to it. Like, “You did a really good job on these first 88 copies. I know you’re tired, but I am going to pull this piece of lodged paper out of your finishing tray and then let’s attempt the last 45 copies, shall we?” I swear to God, Xerox made more copies for me than he did for any of the other teachers. Why? He liked me the best. I was patient and calm with him when he made mistakes, which made him feel free to be the best he could be and do what I wanted him to do.
3. Learn its special language. Sure, Xerox performed the best for me because I was compassionate and kind to him, but I also knew where he liked to be scratched. “He likes his lid open and shut after you unjam him,” I would tell the other teachers who started referring to me as the Copy Machine Whisperer. Every piece of technology has a personality, just like you do. I like to sniff cups before I drink out of them. I’m quirky. Technology can be just as quirky as people. For instance, I know that my computer doesn’t like to be put to sleep with Spotify or Microsoft Word running, it slows him down, so I make a point to make sure he’s comfortable before he goes to sleep by closing out of those apps. If I forget, I apologize to him. Get to know your technologies’ likes and dislikes, its peccadilloes, to get the optimal performance from it.
3. Use a gentle touch. I know I shouldn’t have to say this, but it’s worth mentioning: Never raise your hand to a machine. Never. If you need to fix it or unjam it in some way, use a gentle, non-threatening touch. Violence is not going to get you anywhere with your technology, it will just scare it and send it into a state of panic, not encourage it to trust you.
4. Take good care of it. You bathe daily, or at least I hope you do. Give your technology a bath. Blow an air duster on it. Wipe it down. Plug it in and give it time to recharge its battery. Don’t burn it out by running it all the time, or running 45 programs on it at once. Let it rest. Cool down. Give it space to breathe. Respect its boundaries and limitations. Take good care of your technology and it will take good care of you.