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Twisted Karma

Week of May 7, 2000

'What goes around comes around' is supposed to work. We expect - and rely on - the baddies in the black hats getting theirs at the end of the day.

The ILOVEYOU worm proves this is not so - unless all the Microsoft Outlook users of the world are to be held accountable for their own inertia and lack of resourcefulness.

To some extent they are - everyone has had the opportunity to avoid the Armageddon tools of Microsoft Corporation which have now caused what some hysterical media estimate is over $1 billion in damages. Certainly not using one's own gray matter is an endemic and wide-spread malady. But the buck doesn't stop there.

Thomas Penfield Jackson has already lowered his hammer. Odds are this series of events will not placate him one bit, either. Odds are Judge TP will be more enraged at the pubescent behavior of the world's largest software corporation even more after the ILOVEYOU worm has hit.

But the bad guys are supposed to be punished, not innocent people. That's 'karma' - 'what goes around comes around'. And yet we see that Billg and his cohorts are still thriving, still raking in the billions, they're basically unstoppable. All the while files are destroyed and mail exchanges go down world wide. It's twisted karma.

Or is it? Do PC and Microsoft Outlook users hold no responsibility at all for their actions? Were they forced to use Microsoft Outlook? Were they not capable of choosing safer Internet tools? Were they not capable of making their voices heard in corporations where dinner parties were the only sales argument otherwise used?

What is really scary of course is that maybe the world is not so dumb after all - maybe it's even dumber. Maybe no one will change a thing. Maybe people will go on using Microsoft Outlook and Internet Explorer as before. Maybe they'll just be hit by more and more worms, and the rest of us will have to get used to that din in our ears of them complaining, 'it's another worm and there's nothing we can do about it!'

There is no end to this rant. Wisdom teaches us that wrath is destructive. But that same wisdom does not teach us how to deal with situations such as this. All the bystanders can say at a moment like this is that they hope the hammer falls hard in Washington; that it takes these events into account and officially assesses the blame due Microsoft Corporation; and for all the so-called 'innocent' Microsoft Outlook users out there - the ones that have bombed our mailboxes with ridiculous GIF and JPEG attachments and HTML email messages:

'It's about time - and it serves you right.'

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