Combatting the ‘spinning wheel of rage’: what to do when IT goes wrong

The anger you feel when IT goes wrong is unlike any other. But learn a few DIY fixes and adopt proper tech support etiquette and you’ll sooncombat that rage.

When IT goes wrong: woman pulling her hair out in front of computer

It’s happened to us all: that familiar feeling when IT goes wrong. You sit down, ready to crack on, armed with your best ideas and a mug of coffee. You click and…

Nothing happens.

‘Chrome is not responding’.

‘Microsoft Office has encountered an error.’

You emit a low-pitched moan of disgruntlement.

You try again only to be confronted with a colourful spinning wheel and that crunching cog-grinding sound from your hard drive. Irritation turns to burning anger.

Equal-opportunity anger

It’s not just Windows users who encounter critical errors. Apple users are only too familiar with ‘the spinning beach ball of death’, ‘the spinning pizza of doom’, ‘the marble of doom’ or whatever you like to call it.

OS X Beach ball: what happens when IT goes wrong

Technology is brilliant when it all works smoothly, but when it goes wrong, it causes interruptions and sometimes weeks of disruption: it’s enough to turn your hair grey.

So just how should we behave when technology misbehaves? Here’s what to do when IT goes wrong.

Don’t get mad, get even

‘Computer rage’ (an aggressive physiological response to a misfiring computer) is a real problem in the workplace. Over 54 percent of Britons admitted to verbally abusing their computer and over 40 percent have resorted to physical violence.

Everybody’s first reaction to computer problems is anger: it’s about the most frustrating #firstworldproblem there is.

‘Moderate outbursts of anger in the form of shouting at a computer might actually be beneficial [instead of bottling up emotions]’, says John Charlton from the University of Bolton.

Striking out with violence, however, is only going to make things worse. Take George Doughty. He shot his laptop four times because it ‘seemed appropriate’ in the face of it continually crashing.

Not only was his laptop a write-off but also the police arrested him on suspicion of felony, reckless endangerment and prohibited use of weapons. Not good.

So, when it comes to managing your rage, try to avoid the following at all costs:

  • Punching the screen.
  • Hammering the keyboard.
  • Dousing your desktop monitor in a glass of water.
  • Assaulting your mouse.

Stay calm, remove yourself from the situation and find the Zen calm you need to approach the problem. If you’re struggling to keep a grip try these five tips from the Technology Shaman.

DIY IT support

So now you’ve found your happy place, you’re ready to face the problem. Before you go running off to IT support, make sure it’s not something you could fix easily yourself.

When IT goes wrong: tech_support_cheat_sheet

(Hat tip to xkcd)

These 11 basic steps can solve a lot of your IT problems without the hassle of having to call up a person to come and fix it for you.

Although ‘switch it off and on again’ and ‘is the wire plugged in?’ may not seem like the most tech-savvy responses, they often work.

Search engines are also a great resource when it comes to IT support. In other words: ‘Google it’ (it’s probably what IT support are going to do anyway).

Be a snitch and report when IT goes wrong

In order to ensure an effective and long-term fix for your problem it’s important that there’s a way for you to log what happened. Every company should create a consistent framework that everyone can (and should) follow.

Run through the problem a couple of times so that you’re sure it’s not a user error, or a temporary problem. Systemic problems are usually repeatable. Take screenshots so that the error process is recorded and IT support officers can see exactly what’s going on.

When logging the issue try to give as much information as possible. Statements such as ‘it doesn’t work’ or ‘it’s stuck’ can make technical support a horrible job. So make everybody’s life easier and be accurate, detailed and concise.

All these steps may seem laborious and might add to the irritation you already feel, but they are important because they help you, your colleagues and IT technicians develop repeatable, scalable methods for dealing with such problems in the future.

Keep your cool with tech support

When IT goes wrong: toy workmen on a hard drive

If you’ve followed these steps and the blasted thing still doesn’t work, it’s time call tech support.

Yes, this is a risky step, likely to reignite your technology rage. Know how to be a good supportee, though, and you’ll find things go a lot smoother.

First of all make sure you know your stuff. If you ring up without all the details it will prolong the call and you’ll risk coming across as ill-informed at best (and stupid at worst).

Give clear, measured responses to ensure that the operator can get to the root of your problem. And most importantly, don’t lose your rag.

Don’t become just another statistic

Having the patience to address IT issues properly is a useful trait for everyone. It can save time, expense and effort as well as setting a good precedent for other employees.

Remember: when IT goes wrong, the very first step is to admit that you’ve got a problem.

You can even often avoid anger all together with good IT maintenance. Struggling on with the following can cause serious slow-downs:

  • Bugs and viruses. Keep your anti-virus up to date and run regular checks to avoid getting struck down by malware.
  • Jammed up hard disks. Get your device on a diet and slim down unneeded programmes, files and software.
  • Too much dust in your computer. Dust can cause your device to overheat so keep it clean to keep it running smoothly.

Don’t rely on hand-to-mouth fixes: Keep good computer hygiene, file proper reports, take a deep breath and you’ll soon learn combat the ‘spinning wheel of rage’.

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