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“My Computer Hates Me,” 2014

The anthropomorphizing phrase, "my computer hates me," is uttered frequently by exasperated humans, typically when the outcome of an interaction with technology does meet expectations. While “My Computer Hates Me” is meant as a parody of this statement, its ultimate goal is to make the user think critically about their personification of digital devices and the consequences on interactions with technology more broadly.

Users interact by clicking, pressing, or dragging on a pulsating, blob-like shape. Interaction provokes particular "emotional" responses from the blob, which functions as a stand in for the computer on which it is being used - the computer that "hates you." The repetitive interactions mimic futile attempts to problem solve on computers by retrying the same action, hoping for a different result. Tension over the gamic nature results from a lack of objective, or even ability to ever complete the interactions asked of the user.

While we are aware that our machines are neither autonomous nor capable of human emotion, anthropomorphization of digital devices still fosters unproductive and even irresponsible relationships with technology. Statements that give computers human-like qualities are often used to help interpret how they are working, or more specifically, why they are not working the way we expected. As a result, these types of anthropomorphisms paradoxically bring computers closer to our understanding of human, only to distance them again with the use of technophobic language. Giving digital devices human emotions obscures and resists the logic behind both computer hardware and software. Even on a seemingly superfluous level, these rhetorics affect our subconscious understandings and predispositions towards technology on both a mental and physical level.

“My Computer Hates Me” was built using Processing and Processing.js along with the RiTa library. More detailed analysis and documentation of “My Computer Hates Me” can be found on HASTAC as part of the Brown University class blog "Click Here to Continue," taught Spring 2014 by Fiona Barnett.