On Misery

Ever notice that a lot of geeks seem pretty miserable? You know, down-in-the dumps, put-upon, generally grouchy? Well, according to this article, 1/4 of geeks in small and mid-size businesses have suffered verbal or physical abuse at work, many work hours outside business hours (uh, duh!), and some are looking to leave the field. While I’ve never seen physical abuse, I’ve heard some pretty impressively horrifying help desk calls, where the geek technician is personally insulted for problems that he or she did nothing to cause.

And while I understand that users are frustrated beyond belief when they can’t do their jobs due to technology, it’s definitely demoralizing to hear someone say, “gee, IT has a problem AGAIN.” Well, yeah. We hate it, too. And none of us wants to have a problem AGAIN. And we’re not perfect. And we’re sorry. AGAIN. (And one or more of us have probably pulled an all-nighter or three to fix it. AGAIN.)

So I don’t wonder that geeks are miserable.

However, I don’t actually think it’s all externally motivated misery. Oh, there’s reason enough to sit around and be miserable, but I think there’s a better way to deal with it.

No, it’s not to drink heavily. Honest!

If you’re a miserable geek, I challenge you to ask yourself the question, “What would it take to make me happy?” And then answer it. Honestly.

I did that myself this past week, and was shocked by my answer. There were really only two things: make one change at work, and see friends more often. That’s it. Oh, sure, I’ll be happier with more stable systems, a laptop that actually works, and all sorts of other things; but really, there were only two things that I could think of that would change my attitude radically.

So I ask you, gentle geek and non-geek readers. What would it take to make you happy?