Computer Guys, Computer Guise


Computers are everywhere. They’re so everywhere that we don’t even see them anymore.

Back in the day, when people talked about “computer scientists”, they were talking about stiff white guys in stiff white lab suits looking very serious about their clipboard and bowtie. Invariably, they would be standing in front of giant boxes with a large number of blinking lights and giant spinning wheels of tape. This is Quite Impressive, and a far stretch from today’s software engineers with their Fritos and Mountain Dew and the round bellies that follow.

It used to be impressive to be a computer sceintist. Now it’s so easy to use computers that it’s almost pointless to get a degree. To the Common Man, the bloke that spent eight years earning his Ph.D in Computer Science is “that guy who knows computers”. To which the Common Man’s friend, Bob, says “Oh, yes, I know a guy that knows computers too!”, by which he means some sixteen year old pimply faced kid who built a PC.

For those of you that are impressed by that last bit, rubbing your chin(s) saying “Oh my, sixteen? And building computers? Impressive!”, let me make this bold and simple statement:

Building a PC isn’t hard. It’s like legos: nothing fits where it’s not supposed to go.

For those of you who were furrowing your brows and saying “Sixteen? Feh, I was hacking gibsons at four!”, let’s not blow the straight’s minds okay? For those of you who contest there are things you fit where it’s not supposed to go, sure, but those things aren’t necessary to build a working computer. You really don’t need to futz with pin configuration. You just have a much easier time if you can read manuals and aren’t scared to look at the motherboard.

Computers are everywhere now. In your cars and phones and TVs. In your coffeemakers and traffic lights and moms. One EMP pulse and it’s the end of days for us! Some of them are even on desks and are called “a computer”. And this last kind, the computer-computer, is so unimpressive and common now that it’s surprising if you don’t have one.

So, who’s the true Computer Guy?

The sad truth is that to your dad, Linus Torvalds and Pimple-Faced-Billy are pretty much the same thing. The thirty-year-old who lives in his parent’s basement and knows how to run scripts is just considered a lazy, deadbeat version of a professional software engineer to the mundanes. “Bob could be Bill Gates if he just applied himself,” Bob’s parents say to each other.

But that’s okay! Walk it off, True Believers. They don’t matter; They aren’t in the club. As long as we know how to sniff each other’s asses to figure out who knows their shit and who is shit, does it matter if people who don’t need to know don’t know?

For example: assuming you’re not a Sports Guy, don’t all sports guys fall into the same bucket to you? The 30 year old high school hero and the professional Sportsball player are both in a world that just doesn’t matter to you. One of them is a Rockstar who gets wide acclaim, and one is a scrub who never did anything with his life, but the stereotypical nerd will still throw them both into the same bucket dismissively.

So be proud, Computer Guys*! We are our own deranged clan in this cold, lonely world. Come out of the Server Room and embrace your brothers high and low. Then get right back to making snarky holier-than-thou comments on Slashdot at each other.

*And be glad you’re not a Computer Girl! They’re invisible to the rest of the world, and get waaaay too much attention from us.

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