Nerds are a rather competitive group.  Computer nerds are even worse.  I am sure there is the exception to the rule but every computer nerd hates it when someone else gets a newer or better piece of hardware than what they currently have.  Even close friends are not immune to the green eyed monster of jealousy and envy.
Case in point: a few years ago a friend just received the parts he ordered for his new gaming rig.  He took them out of the box one by one and everyone watching just stood there and drooled as he showed off his latest hardware.  Now he wasn’t being a jerk about it or trying to rub my face in it at all.  He was being very generous and gracious about it all.  I could feel the envy welling up inside me.
To make a long story short, while he wasn’t looking I took the RAM and hid it from him for a while.  It was fun for a while watching him stomp around trying to retrace his steps wondering where he could have misplaced the RAM.  But I do consider friendship as being thicker than water and I confessed as I produced the missing RAM.  It was a good natured prank that we both laughed about.  Deep down I was so jealous of his soon to be constructed gaming rig that I wanted to toss that RAM in the community microwave and give it a nice cleansing 15 second burst.  That is exactly what separates us from the animals; our ability to overcome our bases urges.
That’s not an all that extreme example of the envy we computer geeks feel when placed in that type of situation.  I am sure someone out there has a story that ends similar to his friend actually putting the RAM in the microwave and nuking it.  With friends like that, who the hell needs enemies?  Using myself as an example I know we all feel just a little giddy when we here of a fellow nerd’s hardware malfunctions.  We like to feel a little superior to our friends.  Competitiveness is in our nature.
I am sure it was directed back at me when a few months later when the parts for my new gaming rig were delivered.  As I unboxed everything my friends stood there and murmured curses under their breath.  The next day as I walked into work, head hung low due to a DOA video card they all smiled secretly at my misfortune.  I knew they were smirking at me as they tried to offer comfort.  I didn’t take it personally because if the roles were reversed I would be taking a tiny bit of delight out of it.  That’s just how we are; keeping up with the Jones’.

The problem goes beyond just simple hardware envy.  Anyone who plays online games knows the frustration of being tea bagged by one of your friends.  We try to hide it with laughter and light hearted promises of revenge; but it does get to us.  Like an itch you can’t scratch your friend is always behind you with a loaded shotgun ready to blast a hole through you.  Hey, if it isn’t him someone else would be turning your head into a canoe.  I’ve destroyed many keyboards, mice and headsets by getting upset during online game play.  It isn’t very mature nor is it economically smart, but it felt good at the time.  Rest assured that during my keyboard smashing rage that my friends were sitting back laughing their asses off.

I guess the point I am trying to make is that computer nerds are really no different from anyone else.  We have our faults that stray far from the obvious.  Beyond our social awkwardness and other stereotypical traits we act just like every other human being.  I guess I am a pioneer by admitting to everyone that I take pleasure in someones misfortune.  Does that make me a bad person?

Before you answer that let me tell you this.  My co-worker got parts today for his new home PC.  He’s been talking about it for a few weeks now and has been watching the door all morning for the UPS guy.  Well he starts unboxing everything and decides to start building it right then.

Instead of going home for lunch, he stayed and worked on his new computer.  Let me tell you that he isn’t dumb by any means but I think it’s been a while since he has built a PC from scratch.  In attempting to install the heat sink and fan to his CPU, he put WAY too much thermal paste and it oozed all over the place.  For those of you who know what I am talking about, this can be a potential disaster and definitely a pain to clean up.

He came to me and asked for a little help.  I saw what he had done to the CPU, not to mention how he was just walking around with it in his hand wiping at it with a paper towel.  I must admit that I didn’t feel sorry for him at first.  I thought to myself, “You idiot, you just potentially ruined a $300 CPU.  You ham-fisted dolt”.  Then I remembered back a few years ago when I was building my rig.  I needed a little help and advice and even though the ones I went to help from were probably hoping I would smoke my rig as soon as I turned it on, they were magnanimous.

I swallowed my jealousy and envy and helped steer him in the right direction.  Hopefully he will have learned his lesson about how to apply thermal paste and not to rush things when it comes to delicate electronic components.  I felt more mature for not letting him continue down the path to a Kentucky fried CPU.  In the end I did the right thing and I think I’m a better person for it.  But I still have a little devil on my shoulder hoping to see a tiny mushroom cloud rise from the motherboard when he fires that baby up.