Road rage on the information superhighway
March 12, 1999
MARLBORO, Massachusetts (CNN) -- Smashing keyboards, shattering monitors and kicking in hard-drives; all methods high-tech workers increasingly employ to vent frustration in the workplace, according to an international survey released Thursday. The worldwide poll revealed that 83 percent of network managers found abusive or violent behavior by users against their computer systems.
"This rage is often a result of pent-up hostility," said business psychologist Dr. Wilfred Calmas, who interpreted the results of the survey conducted by Concord Communication, a Marlboro, Massachusetts-based network consulting firm.
"Some people choose to take out their aggression on inanimate objects in this case, their monitor, keyboard or mouse," he said.
According to survey respondents, the number one piece of equipment broken during an act of network rage is the keyboard. Mice and monitors tied for second place and hard drives placed third.
"I had a user who complained that her cursor would not move, so she would repeatedly slap the terminal on one side to move it," claimed one network manager from a research firm in New York.
Network managers attribute some of the network rage to a lack of basic knowledge about computers. For example, help-desk staffers reported users manually picking up a mouse and pointing it at the screen, or searching the keyboard in vain for a key marked "any" when instructed to "press any key."
A network manager in Wisconsin recalled when one of his associates in charge of PC network operations at a store complained that the floppy drive would not work. "After we called a technician to look into the problem, we found that hundreds of checks had been jammed into the floppy drive opening," he said. "It seems store employees mistook the floppy slot as a check slot."
The survey reported other equally amusing reasons why users called the help desk in a huff. A network manager at a manufacturing corporation in Oregon recalled an irate user unable to open files attached to e-mail. Over the phone, he instructed her to "right mouse click" to open.
That suggestion didn't do the trick. When he paid a visit to the user in person, he saw the words "mouse click" written repeatedly across the screen.
"You told me to write 'mouse click,' she protested. The network manager managed to stifle a guffaw.
The survey also pointed out that network managers face challenges when introducing employees to new software applications and advances in communication technology. One manager for a large insurance company encountered such a problem when introducing staff to electronic mail.
"I received a call from an enraged user who claimed to not be able to send e-mails," he said. "After I calmed her down, I asked to see a sample of an email message she was trying to send. The e-mail address included street name, town, county and full postal code."
'Air rage' leads to removal of airline passengers
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