My desk is not sacred. It sits in the middle of a large room, adjacent to a communal work table and no one seems to recognize that it, and by extension, any object upon it, is proprietary. Granted, it's the nature of my job that I'm often not at my desk: I'm on the shooting stage, at the film lab, at the rental house or off dealing with some other vendor. On the other hand, the minutia on my desktop from my pencil cup to my inbox to the constantly shifting collection of coffee cups would indicate that this space belongs to someone and should probably be left as it is.
But noooooooooooooo! First, my pens get stolen by the fistful. Second, anyone who strolls by feels they can use my phone and write on my scratch pad and sit in my chair if it suits them. Third, they all use my pro-sumer copy/fax/scanner that can do all sorts of fancy stuff, the one that's mine, as in I paid for it out of pocket and it cost more than two different cars that I owned in college. At least I can talk the company into buying me toner once in a while.
For all my bitching, most of this is pretty innocuous. I can get more pens and pads and half the reason that I have the copier is to make others' lives easier. There is one thing that sticks in my craw, though.
People will try and use my computer.
Now, I've worked in a number of movie offices in which there is a public terminal or two set up if a non-office person needs to get on the web or type something. This is not one of those offices. Moreover, even if it were, my computer is obviously not the one. It's covered in stickers. The desktop is highly customized. Oh, and I run a operating system that most people can't negotiate without a hand to hold. Sure, I lock the screen if I'm going to be gone for more than a few moments but that stops no one. If I get up to run to the bathroom or to escort someone from the lobby, invariably I return to find any one of the two-hundred n'er do wells that we employ dragging their soiled boots all over my corner of the information super-highway. Most of the time they also find that they are borderline helpless in using Linux, even the idiot-simple version of Linux I use, and are then indignant that they can't make use of the computer that wasn't there to use in the first place.
I thought this was one of the unspoken laws of modernity: One does not fuck with another's computer without express permission. All kidding aside, a laptop is a very private place. Digging in someone's computer, for even a few minutes, can reveal all kinds of personal information from financial documentation to family secrets to sexual fetishes. Only a person's bedroom is more private and really only because there's a one in three chance that said person might be in there and asleep. It's somewhere one simply does not venture without the say so.
There's all sorts of damage one can do on a computer with which they're not familiar. They could accidentally bollocks up a document that's taken days to perfect, inadvertently delete a crucial file, bump "reply all" on the wrong email. They might leave URL's in the browser cache or images on the screen of which bosses or significant others might not approve. Most likely, they'll just spill their coffee on it but fucked is still fucked.
This could be my Pagan upbringing, the idea that everyone is entitled to a certain amount of sovereign space, an inalienable degree of privacy. Maybe most people are fine with others having access to their hard drives because they have a faith in basic human decency that I lack. Maybe all of my coworkers are assholes.*
Am I wrong about this? Is a computer really a much more mundane item, a tool like a screwdriver or a hair dryer that can be freely passed about and I'm just overreacting or is a computer more like one's castle in cyberspace with rules of propriety analogous to the flesh and consequences world?
*May of my colleagues feel that I'm an asshole so I feel justified in saying this in that way that pots may speak to kettles.