Note: This is a republishing of a pulled article. It turns out that some of the facts were not accurate when I posted it initially, but I feel that there is a lesson about patterns and accepting the outcome of your choices when you make the decision to avoid seeing a pattern.
A close friend called me in tears last night because their computer crashed and they lost a very important essay. Normally I am sympathetic but last night was different. I simply said “that sucks, I guess you need to start writing it again”. They replied with “thanks a lot” and hung-up.
I cared a little, that they hung-up on me, but very little that they had lost their essay, one that they had spend almost a month working on. I hope we don’t chat for a while so I’m able to NOT say “I told you to back it up in 3 unique places, I told you to email the essay to your gmail account a couple of times a week, I told you to burn it to disk every few days”. I don’t want to say these things because they are not helpful and because saying them would move the conversation away from the fact that it seems that this person is engineering a reason to fail.
It sure looks that way. Simply put, you do not, at an age greater than 15, have any excuse for NOT backing-up your critical computer files – particularly the ones that are needed for you to graduate. The only reason for repeating this pattern is that you want to have an external reason for why a failure was not your fault – although no one in the world is going to accept that a computer failure as anything other than an excuse.
I hope they are able to recover from the loss. Barring that, I hope in time that they are able to see that they did it to themselves because they don’t want to be successful. It wasn’t the first time this has happened, it’s the fifth or sixth; each time before they were able to recover the documents. I recall the last serious episode – a frantic 1:30 AM panic which had a successful ending and the promise that back-ups would be performed. Well, they weren’t and all I can say is that I see the pattern, this is their nature and this is the way it’s always going to be for them until they see it for themselves.
The sad part, final year of a time critical program. If the essay isn’t completed there are huge time and money expenses to get back on track. All avoidable if their nature was different or if they say themselves for who and how they are – someone searching for a reason why the world is out to get them and so keen to find it that they’ll engineer their own failure – or if they cared enough about their stuff to look after it
UPDATE: it turned out that partial back-ups had been made in the form of sectional draft emails to an adviser. The person was able to recreate the paper for the most part and did end up getting a very good mark. We never chatted about the crisis again so I’ll assume the lesson was learned this time round.