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Tempers Flare on the Information Super Highway

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RALEIGH — We've heard lots aboutroad rageandsky ragelately. Now there's another rage to consider: computer rage.

Lots of us use computers at work and at home, and sometimes things simply don't work right and we get mad at the machine. Some people have literally smashed their machines in a rage.

We depend on computers. When things go wrong, our anxiety level goes up, anger can set in and violent behavior can result.

Psychologist Dr. Dan Ryan says such behavior is not rational.

"To get that angry, frustrated or enraged at the machine basically floods your brain with stress hormones that prevent you from being able to think through what do I need to do now."

The Internet carries stories of rage against these machines. There have even been contests during which people destroyed their computers.

Knowing your software and how your computer works is preventive medicine. Still, things can and do go wrong.

"Things aren't working properly so they blame it on the computer, which is supposed to be smart and really isn't," says Eric Lomoscolo, a computer consultant.

The operator is the only part of the process with a brain. When the anger starts, here's how to cope:

"You go and pound the heck out of a mattress or a cushion or something like that. Something that is safe," suggests Dr. Ryan.

"The best thing for them to do if they know they're going to get frustrated is to call their... network administrator," says Lomoscolo. "If at home, call their customer support to try to get the help they need."

Sometimes that helps. But you can be "on hold" forever because so many folks are looking for help.

The best thing to do is to develop a good friendship with a computer expert. Often, they see your problem as a challenge and it's a friendly way to show you they know more than you do. That's better than taking a gun to your computer.


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