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Supreme Monkey Overlord writes: I currently share a flat with another bloke, who I don’t know all that well, but apart from one thing we get on fine. We have a shared PC (mine) in the living room, and I don’t mind him using it at all. But recently the browser has become absolutely rammed with porn bookmarks, and I know for a fact that they’re not from me. I really want to have a word with him about it because I feel he’s taking the piss (I’ve told my girlfriend that it’s bust at the moment, as I don’t want her using it, thinking it’s me and kicking off), but I don’t want to start a row - and I really don’t want to raise the possibility of what he gets up to on my PC. What do I do?
Sam says: I think a computer is a bit like a bed; it’s actually a very personal thing and part of your territory, but the trouble is people tend to treat it like public property these days. How would you feel if the bloke you lived with just slept in your bed every time he felt like it and had a wank while reading porn? Pretty pissed off, I’d imagine.
Apart from anything else, he is putting you and your computer at risk. Loads of porn sites have adware, trojans and viruses, and looking at porn is a (if not the) prime way to get spammed and have your computer turned into a zombie bot.
Talk is cheap and people stay the same – you asking him to stop looking at porn on your computer (and probably having a good old monkey spank at the same time) isn’t going to actually stop anything. At best he will just delete the bookmarks and keep doing what he already does.
Therefore, you’ve got to bite the bullet on this one and take action. Move the computer into your bedroom, which is your personal territory, which makes it much harder for him justify using it. Then, also tell him that you have had some problems with spam and viruses, that it’s your personal computer and he’s going to need to get himself a laptop. He’ll take it on the chin, stop taking the lazy option and if he really wants some good wank material, buy himself a laptop. Probably better for everyone - there is no chance that you or your girlfriend are going to have the horrible experience of him caught in the headlights monkey in hand, and he gets to the look at porn in the privacy of his own room. Laptops are much cheaper these days (you can even get one with a new mobile phone contract), so really it shouldn’t be much skin off anyone’s nose.
‘Mr Sex’ says: Hm, one of the great dilemmas of the age, this one. I’m gonna play Devil’s Advocate here, and take the side of your mate.
Obviously, the situation is pissing you off enormously, and by the tone of your e-mail, you’re about this close to bursting into the flat after spending a night brooding in the pub, laying about his skull with a keyboard, and screaming “I’M! NOT! PAYING! FOR! YOUR! WANKS!” with every stroke. House-related toss-problems always bring about extreme reactions; we know that we enjoy relaxing in a gentlemanly manner, but when we think about anyone else we know doing the same…yeuch.
Speaking as someone who doesn’t have £400 quid lying about, I’m not down with Sam’s idea that one can pick up a laptop just like that, and the moving of something you’ve offered to share is the first step towards a war of domestic minge-bag attrition that invariably leads to people writing their names on their eggs. So let’s not do that, not just yet. Furthermore, firing wankusations at another man is not on, either, and will cause far more trouble than its worth. In any case, these bookmarks could have come from anywhere - a gambling site, a P2P programme, a dodgy software site – and for all you know, you could have activated them yourself.
I’m not the most spodular person I know, but a quick and easy solution would be to do a complete scan and de-grot of your hard drive (even reformat the whole thing, if you can back everything up on a portable drive), and then create separate password accounts for each of you. That way, neither of you knows what the other one is on with, and your girlfriend isn’t going to be invited to look at God knows what (unless you’ve put it there). Then, and only then, should you broach the subject of laptop-related apartheid.
Oh, and if your flatmate happens to be Gary Glitter, burn it. Now.
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