IT staff on TV: insufferable nerds
The mainstream media hasn’t done much to ameliorate the negative view of IT departments, even if it’s given us some hearty laughs in the process.
The “have you tried turning it off and on again?” catchphrase from The IT Crowd perfectly crystallised the disconnect between IT and the common worker. No doubt T-shirts carrying that quote are adorning many a support worker’s torso right now.
Moss, perfectly portrayed by Richard Ayoade, gave us the archetypal IT guy, devoid of any social skills, yet something of a genius. Roy, played by Chris O’Dowd, typified the curmudgeonly IT leader tired of workers’ moronic behaviour, while Jen was the IT manager desperately trying to get noticed by the executives – ultimately, in vain.
But it was Matthew Holness’ appearance in The Office that really nailed the IT stereotype to the wall. As Simon, a pale, waistcoat-wearing IT oddball, he has a number of particularly memorable moments with office dullard Gareth, including a boast that he rebuffed a career as a Formula 1 driver because he was making a “s***load from computers”.
However, it’s his conversation with the put-upon Tim that really exemplifies the caricature of the condescending geek. Simon turns up to install a new firewall on Tim’s computer, leading to the following discourse:
Tim: What’s that?
Simon: It protects your computer against script kiddies, data collectors, viruses, worms and trojan horses, and it limits your outbound internet communications. Any more questions?
Tim Yes. How long will it take?
Simon: Why? Do you want to do it yourself?
Tim No, I can’t do it myself. How long will it take you, out of interest?
Simon: It’ll take as long as it takes.
Tim Right, um… How long did it take you the last time you did…
Simon: (interrupting) It’s done.
Tim Right, thank you.
Simon: Now, I’m gonna switch it off. When it comes back on, it’ll ask you to hit yes, no or cancel. Do not hit yes or no.
Simon: Did you hear what I said?
Simon: What did I say?
Tim Hit cancel.