Human Error

JoAnna Bennett

JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group

28 January 2021

Have you ever been lying down looking at your phone, when out of nowhere it plops right into your nose? You’re aimlessly scrolling through your newsfeed, then BAM! You’re seeing shapes and colors. Your nose feels like it’s been stung by a bee. And you’re angry. Are you angry at yourself? Or angry at the phone? Whose fault was it?

It’s easy to blame the phone. How dare you slip out of my hands, you mindless device! However, that argument reminds me of when I’d play video games and get upset with the controller. I’d be playing Super Mario Bros. I’d be on my last life, trying to finish level eight. Playing along as carefully as I can when BAM! A flying green-shelled Koopa Troopa runs into me, and it’s all over. I have to start from the beginning! I know I jumped over the thing! Why didn’t the controller notice I hit the button? I’d throw the controller down in a fit of anger and vow never to play again. Deep down, I knew who to blame. I just didn’t want to face the music.


Whether I’ve smacked myself in the nose with my phone or let a green-shelled Koopa Troopa run into me while trying to finish level eight in Super Mario Bros., it was my fault. Whether I meant to or not isn’t paramount.

First, I have to face the facts: I’m the human in charge of these devices. I have to learn to control them better. The phone didn’t magically slip out of my hands, and the controller didn’t magically defy my command.

These things happen to all of us. Whether you’ve whacked yourself with your phone or taken yourself out of a Super Mario game, there isn’t much to do except notice the fault, forgive yourself, and move on. Sure, your nose might be sore. Or your ego may be bruised. But you’ll certainly survive. And maybe you can learn a lesson or two in the process.

As Tom Gilb, American engineer, is known to have said, “At the source of every error which is blamed on the computer, you will find at least two human errors, one of which is the error of blaming it on the computer.”

If you’re going to make two mistakes, you might as well learn two lessons.