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9 Ways Your Computer Resembles a War Zone

Today is D-Day, for those of you keeping track. So to stay on theme with today's events in history, we offer a comparison (though most certainly not an equivocation) between that history and our more present struggles. 

 

1. Everyone has, more or less, the same equipment. 

    In War: Everyone has a gun. Some fire little bullets, some fire big bullets. In rare cases, the person’s gun has a plane attached to it. But you get the point. 

    Online: Everyone has a computer. Some are little computers, some are big computers. But they all do (mostly) the same stuff in (mostly) the same ways. 

     

    2. Everyone’s equipment is, more or less, functional by design. They’re working tools.

      In War: Your gun is intended (more or less) to shoot other people who have guns. Whatever else you carry is meant (ultimately) to help you use your gun, or to keep the enemy people from using theirs. 

      Online: Your computer is intended (more or less) to communicate with other people or things who have computers. Whatever else you install is meant (ultimately) to help you communicate more. 

       

      3. This won’t stop you from making your equipment your own—or even having some fun with it. 

        In War: This is my gun. There are many others like it, but this one is mine. When it’s not doing work, it’s one way to have fun—and I want it to look somehow distinct from the others. (If this one doesn’t make sense to you, you haven’t spent enough time in the American South.) 

        Online: This is my computer. There are many others like it, but this one is mine. When it’s not doing work, it’s one way to have fun—and I want it to look somehow distinct from the others. (If this one doesn’t make sense to you, you haven’t spent enough time in coffee shops.)

         

        4. The few things you need are one second away. Everything else is a disorganized mess. 

          In War: Helmet? Check. Radio? Check. Canteen? Check. Toenail clippers? Hell if I know. 

          Online: Today’s work? Check. Music and recent photos? Check. Email and calendar? Check. Last year’s tax return? Hell if I know. 

           

          5. Most things visible to the public are broken—or at least, less than pristine. 

            In War: Lots of anonymous buildings are completely dilapidated. Important buildings (like courthouses), while more likely functional, might look like they’re in rough shape. Everyone sees this disrepair, but no one says anything because it’s just normal.

            Online: Lots of anonymous websites are completely out of date, if not buggy and broken. Important sites (like Reddit), while more likely functional, might look like they’re in rough shape. Everyone sees this disrepair, but no one says anything because it’s just normal. 

             

            6. You’re constantly bombarded with things to worry about, pay attention to, or deal with. (And you can’t ask them to stop.) 

              In War: You’re poised and ready for the next threat. Your eyes dart left and right. You’re not sure when, or from exactly where, but you know more is coming.

              Online: You’re poised and ready for the next notification. Your eyes dart left and right, but mostly to the top-right corner. You’re not sure when, or from exactly where, but you know more is coming.

               

              7. You never really know anyone unless you try. But strangers can still be fascinating—and memorable for a lifetime. 

              In War: You can’t afford to get too attached to people because there’s a good chance that—for whatever reason—you won’t see them again. They’re real people, but for now they’re just a name tag on a uniform, and most times it’s better to keep it that way. Still, you’ll find yourself entranced sometimes by strangers and their stories, and you’ll remember them always, even if you forget the people telling them. 

              Online: You can’t afford to get too attached to people because there’s a good chance that—for whatever reason—you won’t see them again. They’re real people, but for now they’re just a username in some app, and most times it’s better to keep it that way. Still, you’ll find yourself entranced sometimes by strangers and their stories, and you’ll remember them always, even if you forget the people telling them.

               

              8. There’s an entire underbelly that most people will never see. 

              In War: There are far, far more technicalities to war than any civilian can think about. Some of these, like rules of engagement, are simple enough conventions to learn. But there’s also a lot of political brokering that has nothing to do with the usual forces people expect (like ideology).  

              Online: There are far, far more technicalities to computers (and the Web) than any typical user can think about. Some of these, like basic cyber-security practices, are simple enough conventions to learn. But there’s also a lot of political brokering that has nothing to do with the usual forces people expect (like worldwide cybersecurity). To get an idea, read about net neutrality. 

               

              9. The more you understand everything that’s happening, the worse you’re likely to feel about all of it. 

                In War: What person can survive the most extreme of human phenomena—much less become good at it, professionally—without going a little crazy?

                Online: What person can master (one of) the most tedious and technical professions known to man—much less become good at it, professionally—without going a little crazy?

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