Somehow, This is All Your Fault

Somehow, This is All Your Fault

Maybe we should file this under the Law of Unintended Consequences, but in AOL’s latest advertisement, we see a handful of everyday people telling you they want they’re hard-drives erased, family photos relegated to cyber-Sheol, and a general computer meltdown. Then a cheerful voice tells that “millions of computer users are just asking for a virus, because they’re not as protected as they think are,” and how AOL, in it’s awe-inspiring wisdom, is including virus protection as part of its service.

Wonderful, great, but shouldn’t this little "service" have already been part of the package to begin with? AOL’s commercial — well intention as it might be — just underscores how much the computer industry treats its clients like idiots. In short order, AOL is laying the blame for viruses on people, and then acting as though it’s doing you a favor by including virus protection. It’s a little like a car manfucturer beaming that he’s even including seat belts with your new purchase.

Computers are very intimidating machines to scores of everyday folk, who are often more interested in doing what vendors tell them they can -- like organize photos, music and make movies -- rather than trying to figure out how the damn thing works. Yet computers are still mysterious things for most people, who wind up trying to understand the latter more than the former. And it’s outright lunacy that so many people are at risk because they bought a computer running Microsoft Windows. Since that operating system has such a worldwide lock on the market, people who write malicious programs, trojan horses and troublesome viruses spend their endless free time trying to wreak havoc on those computer running Windows, often taking scores of everyday folk along for a hellish ride.

At this point, let me come clean: I don’t like Microsoft and I try not to use Windows. But what’s motivating my rage at this point is how ridiculous it is to blame regular computers users for their lack of protection against so-called "malware." It’s mind-boggling how you have an entire industry dedicated to keeping machines clean and preventing them from becoming infected, fighting buggy software and geeks hell-bent on causing chaos. And it’s equally mind-boggling how you expect ordinary people to also be on top of this as well. These people, who walk into CompUSA and simply want a machine to e-mail with, become unwitting participants in all of this. They buy a computer, and walk out the store with a potential problem on their hands: a machine that could easily become infected with a virus and passes it along to everyone, or becomes a "zombie PC." It’s no wonder that when you buy a PC, you’re offered any number of anti-virus packages as well.

But consumers aren’t completely out of the picture. We know there are viruses and spyware and the such, yet we continue to buy these machines in the hope that perhaps someday, the problem will be solved. We live with the fiction that the bad programs out there are just the results of a handful of bad people, oblivious to the fact that operating system they use isn’t secure to begin with; an open invitation for all types of malfeasance.

Consumer choices aside (we’re addicted to cheap stuff, that’s the bottom line, and you get what you pay for), it’s insulting for an Internet service provider to act as though it’s doing you a favor by including virus protected or spam-blocking as part of a package. These people are supposed to know computers, so they should know that if you use Windows, you’re always going to be at risk. Stop acting like it’s a stroke of inspiration to start protecting the people from crummy software and its exploiters: you should have been doing this from day one!

It’s just a damn shame so many people opt to put up with this.