Wisdom I Learned Working In IT: Nothing is Magical

I worked in the IT field for nine years, most of it as a help desk technician. It would be an understatement to say my job hasn’t been easy. Anyone who works on computers is part detective, part engineer, part psychologist, part interior designer, part whipping boy, and a shit load of other things that require you to push your mind to its limit in multiple directions every day. When you’re surrounded by intimidatingly mysterious problems every day, you think with your nose to the ground.

Computers aren’t mysterious, magical or spiritual. When you have a computer problem, you don’t pray. You call the help desk, because deep down, you understand how reality works. Nothing happens because of magic, divine intervention or fate. Absolutely nothing ever happens for no reason at all. Every event in this universe is the product of a cause and effect chain of events. I’m not saying God isn’t real, just that if God is real, it doesn’t break the rules the natural laws the universe operates on.

When your car or computer breaks down, you don’t wonder if someone put a curse on it. Common sense tells you it happened for a cut and dry, logical, scientific reason. You can always confirm this by looking at the evidence and follow the chain of events backward logically to find the secular source of the problem. Yet, people pick and choose times to suspend sanity and slip back into magical thinking.

I once got a call from a user who said something was wrong with her computer. At the time I had a program that let me connect to other computers remotely and take control of the mouse and keyboard. I took control of her computer and started controlling her mouse remotely to check various settings on her computer. I made the mistake of not warning her that I was going to take control of her computer. When she saw her mouse start opening folders, she screamed into the phone, “MY COMPUTER IS POSSESSED!” That really happened. When I got off the phone with her I thought, “If this lady thinks ghosts haunt computers, how much else does she not understand about the universe? Her reality must be a scary place to live.”

A lot of people don’t like to accept that we live in a scientific universe because it’s easier to absolve yourself of ignorance by saying the universe is unknowable and to excuse yourself from responsibility because everything is part of God’s plan, and He’s going to clean up all our messes. It has been my experience, both a computer technician and a human being, that this is a destructive way of looking at life. It never solves anything, and it paralyzes us from taking realistic cause and effect measures to fix our problems. If you don’t believe me, then pray to God to fix your computer the next time your hard drive burns out and see what happens.

Or, when anything goes wrong in your life, don’t panic. Remind yourself, there’s a logical reason why it’s not working. If it seems mysterious, it’s just because you haven’t followed the cause and effect trail to the source of the problem using salt-of-the-earth deductive and/or inductive reasoning.

 

 

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