Perhaps it’s just the breathless rhetoric everyone uses, but cyber spying sounds exciting. Chinese hackers nosing around New York Times reporters’ emails? That’s the stuff of thrillers! However, the Los Angeles Times discovered a blog kept by a young man once employed as a grunt in China’s hacker army, and it sounds just as bad as the most mind-numbing office job you ever had.
For one thing, you don’t get the usual perks of being a hacker (i.e., the option to work from home pantsless, Cheetos close at hand):
The young man wore a military uniform at work in Shanghai. He lived in a dorm where meals often consisted of instant ramen noodles. The workday ran from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., although hackers were often required to work late into the evening.
Stuck at his desk, he spent a lot of time dicking around online:
He shopped, chatted with friends and courted a girlfriend. He watched movie and television shows. He drew particular inspiration from the Fox series “Prison Break,” and borrowed its name for his blog.
On that blog, he wrote the kind of long, miserable screeds that are often confined to Gchat:
“What I can’t understand is why all the work units are located in the most remote areas of the city,” Wang wrote in an entry in 2007. “I really don’t get what those old guys are thinking in the beginning. They should at least take us young people into consideration. How can passionate young people like us handle a prison-like environment like this?”
He also complained about his boss’s contradictory directions (improve your English, but don’t read “foreign publications”), stingy expense reimbursement and the agony of attending a high school reunion filled with more successful peers.
Chinese hackers: They’re just like us!