Waving A Dead Chicken

What Does Waving A Dead Chicken Mean?

“Waving a dead chicken” is a slang term for doing some sort of technical activity that is technically futile or superstitious in nature. It speaks to the ideas that people have about technology, and the ways that humans interact with computers and digital systems.


Techopedia Explains Waving A Dead Chicken

Waving a dead chicken happens in a number of ways. One of the common ones is through human superstition about technology. When someone is trying to fix something, for instance, successfully boot a personal computer, install an operating system or use a particular application, they may start to perform specific tasks such as restarting the computer, using the control-alt-delete keys, or changing settings on the control panel. They may even associate successful operations with things like rubbing the mouse pad or the frame of the computer, tapping on an area of the computer case, or plugging and unplugging various cords. This type of waving a dead chicken is especially associated with those with obsessive-compulsive disorder tendencies, where the repetitive use of technology starts to take on a somewhat complex psychological effect.

Superstitious or compulsive interactions with technology are not the only scenario where waving a dead chicken occurs. Another is where someone might be going through the motions of tech repair, and doing ineffective and irrelevant tasks in order to fulfill someone else’s expectations. For example, a tech might be ordered to install a particular system in ways that do not work. He or she might perform a variety of useless tasks, either in order to be seen as working for the money, or to try to serve a client’s demands even though they may be unreasonable.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.