You need to restart your comptuer.

November 8th, 2007

An irksome and aggravating linguistic trend, a popular mistake, has now spread so wide through English-speaking culture that it’s included in the firmware of my MacBook Pro.

“You need to restart your computer.”

Whether you are a programmer explaining how I should cope with your system’s collapse, or a bureaucrat describing how best I should waddle through the maze of your forms, or anyone else attempting to enforce petty personal rules, one thing is certain: I don’t need this. I don’t need to fill out your form 2319-A. I don’t need to put down my video camera in your store. And I definitely do not need to restart the computer that moments ago held my unsaved work.

These needs are your needs. Not mine. I’m not the needy person in this relationship. My needs are simple: for things to work, for people to speak English correctly, and for certain individuals — really, just a handful of them — to fuck off. And those off-fucking people have needs too, I’m sure. I don’t think it would be healthy for me to project my off-fucking needs onto them, when they are so needy already. They don’t need to fuck off and die. I need for them to fuck off and die, and decompose, and be forgotten, and perhaps implode. That’s different.

The correct phrasing therefore is: “Your computer needs you to restart it.”

2 Responses to “You need to restart your comptuer.”

  1. Cassidy Says:

    Haha… Raquel used to give me a hard time about the way I gave driving directions:

    “Okay, at the next light, you wanna make a left”.

    “How do you know what I want?!?”

  2. mykle Says:

    Update: it’s been suggested that “Your computer needs to be restarted” is simpler and more correct. After all, the computer doesn’t care who holds the button down. I imagine someone in Documentation got carried away with Shunning The Passive Voice and vetoed this obvious, elegant sentence somewhere in the process.

    Nevertheless, if your computer needs restarting, who else can it turn to, realistically, but you? It’s in no position to ask the internet for help. I suppose it could beep loudly and employ all caps: OH GOD HELP ME SOMEBODY PLEASE I’M STUCK! Let’s not go there.

    For brevity’s sake, “Your computer needs restarting” could work, but it uses a gerund construction not in common use.

    At any rate, the operative term painfully absent from all these suggestions is “Sorry.”

    And yes, I just got my first restart message in, like, years. It still hurts.

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