We all see this happen, someone expresses a complaint or a gripe, for example, “I can’t get my cell phone to sync,” or “I hate this thing, it doesn’t do what it should” and some miscrea … er, I mean “misguided” person inevitably replies with “but that never happens to me” or “I’m fine with it the way it is.” After many years of observing humans, this particular trait has bubbled up into the top 3 positions for “most annoying” to me.
Now, without going down a rabbit hole, I’ll admit up front that as a technologist, I fit many of the stereotypes. By non-techs I’ve been compared to Sheldon from Big Bang, Monk, or Richard “Dick” Milhous Dastardly, and not in the good ways. Just as “normals” find our kind amusing (and sitcom worthy), the traffic goes both ways … mumble mumble muggles mumble mumble.
So the point I’m about to make here is to review and give insight into why what might seem like pleasant societal banter or discourse … is in fact nails-on-chalkboard-deafening-torture to some of us.
When a technically minded person expresses a complaint, they are not like a Charles Schultz Peanuts character lamenting the angst of life, although it may pose a striking similarity (…noted).
Rather, there is a structure, a method, an architecture in place for lamenting the failure of the system itself. This is not omphaloskepsis, and in this case we’re not complaining to hear our own voices (contrary to some conflicting evidence), rather, we are placing the spotlight on a real problem that is negatively impacting our lives. We’re not looking to be consoled, comforted or soothed. What we are looking for is that normally eschewed stereotypical first part of man-offering-to-solve~woman’s-problem-when-all-she-wants-is-someone-to-listen. We want the unfiltered unfettered “solve” part, “please serve the dressing on the side.”
We have just identified a failure in the fabric of the universe, a crime, an unacceptable design flaw, a bug, an abuse of the system, a breakdown in communication, a candidate for a pink slip … and, and, and, (breath) we’re NOT asking you to tell us how you DON’T see it, how you are utterly oblivious to an openly patently clear-as-day insurmountable and perhaps devastating reality. Clearly you did not devour an entire C&H endorsed puffed grain breakfast product just in order to acquire the much coveted plastic toy … only to find a small cellophane sealed folded piece of paper with a lame pun based puzzle inside as a child. We are seeking, pleading, begging for someone, anyone, to deliver a 100cc (an absurdly large amount) Cortisone injection in our eyeball to block the pain of what we are seeing, and your “I never see that problem” … “It works well enough for me” or god-forbid (and never more have I wanted a god to exist just so that an all powerful entity could cast down from the heavens and stamp your forehead with “ES IST VERBOTEN”) …… “I like it the way it is.”
In the technical world we have nomenclature to describe shades and modes of failure, in much the same way the urban legend purports Eskimos to have many words for snow (what is the word for “your factoid is wrong, but we can’t stop you from repeating it?”), we have edge cases, base cases, boundary cases, and even corner cases, the last one specifically describes a situation that is outside the norm, or more technically “outside the operating parameters. This is where WE live.
An example might be how the Ford Pinto EXPLODED on impact. The fuel tank was placed between the rear axle and bumper as was common for cars at the time, however, Ford used very thin walls for their fuel tank, together with protruding sharp edged bolts. Add a collision over 40km/h (25mph) at the correct angle, and the right weather for a spark, and you might get a failure, in the form of burning death from hell.
If you are suffering from burning death from hell, do you really want someone saying “my car never does that?” Do you even care if someone is more specific and says “my Pinto has never exploded into my arse?” No! In fact I originally wanted to title this “Shut your pie hole, I’m burning to death in my Pinto ,” but felt this might take attention away from people being wrong about the Telsa car fires (which have not hurt anyone, and may you only be wealthy enough to afford the safest car in … history).
Scientists, engineers and designers devote their lives to preventing these failures, endless sleepless nights, forgoing many of life’s pleasures, living in fear they have overlooked a set of conditions (a “case”) that reveals one’s ineptitude.
Please understand also that – what ever lamentation of a missing feature, accessory, augmentation, accouterments, theme, skin, choice, or function the techie is espousing, it is almost never the case they want for you to not have it your way, they just want to … ALSO … have it their way, or know how to solve the problem.