Only 39% are honest about cursing at computers, survey shows

Bulk of the balance having trouble with memories or candor

swearing at computer

A troubling 61 percent of computer users have apparently deluded themselves into believing that they have never - not even once -- cursed or yelled out loud at a malfunctioning machine.

That's not exactly the spin being put on recent survey results by security vendor Avira, which credulously passes along in a press release that 39 percent of 14,284 persons surveyed in December admitted to having "cursed or yelled at the computer out loud."

Which leaves us to believe that the balance - 61 percent - have never done so. Never cursed ... and never yelled ... at a computer. Not once. I'm sorry, but weed out the newbies, mutes and living saints, and what you're left with in that 61 percent is, at best, a boatload of selective memories. (Please see correction below.)

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At this point, a number of you are no doubt protesting that you, in fact - swear-on-Mom's-grave honestly -- have never cursed or yelled at a computer.

Congratulations, I don't doubt you for a moment.

What I doubt is that you are part of a 61 percent-strong  majority.

It's an anonymous survey, people; no one's going to think less of you for acknowledging that your inner Cursebird has warbled a time or two at a misbehaving machine.

Here are a few more results from that survey; make of them what you will:

  • 38% - No! I would never yell at my computer, it is too sensitive. (I friendly try to encourage it working again...)
  • 11% - Thought Wished for catastrophe to strike the company that makes your operating system software or computer
  • 9% - Hit your computer with another object (fist, baseball bat, etc.)
  • 3% - Actually thrown the computer to the ground or against a desk or other piece of furniture

Cursing and yelling is one thing; some of you clearly could use an anger management class.

And relative to the 11% who "thought wished" catastrophe upon a technology vendor: I couldn't help but notice that this particular survey result represented the one and only time that software was even mentioned in the press release.

Clearly there was no need to ask which maker of operating systems the thought wishers had in mind.

(Correction: I keep trying to make this shorter, but it keeps getting longer. Sorry. ... As several readers have noted in comments, this survey's assertion that 39 percent of respondents reported having cursed at their computer does not mean that 61 percent are claiming they have never done so. I apologize for the mistake.

The crux of the error is that the 39 percent figure does not take into account the cursing proclivities of another group of respondents, the 23 percent who replied either that they have nasty "thought wishes," have hit a computer, or have dropped one out of anger. And the reason I didn't realize that was an issue is that a public relations professional failed to mention in this press release that the survey asked respondents to pick only the single option that best describes them, as opposed to choosing all that apply.

I had presumed the latter, because the options clearly are not mutually exclusive, and that's the way these surveys usually work. Should I have checked? In retrospect, obviously, but it never occurred to me that the press release might be missing such a critical piece of information. After all, without readers knowing that the instruction was to pick one and only one, the results as reported are worse than misleading, they're essentially worthless.

The fact is we don't know, based on this survey, how many people have cursed at their computer because we have no relevant information concerning that 23 percent who have done worse. I would guess most of them have also cursed, and would have admitted to it had they had the chance. Therefore, I would also guess that the actual percentage of cursers is in the neighborhood of 60 percent, putting those who would claim they have never sworn at a machine at about 40 percent; still questionably high, in my opinion. But those are all guesses, because merely guessing is all we can do with this fatally flawed information. ... What I know for certain is that I regret having brought it to your attention.)

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