viruses thrive on stupidity
May 5, 2000
It wasn't love that sent an e-mail
virus rocketing around the world at cyberspace
lightspeed this week.
It was old-fashioned, low-tech stupidity.
We got about 200 or so of the "I
Love You" e-mail viruses in our in-box on
Thursday, which means about 200 people who have
our names in their Microsoft Outlook address books
were stupid enough to open the Visual Basic Script
that held the virus.
According to most news reports,
they weren't alone. Millions of computer users
worldwide blindly clicked on the attachment and
multiplied the problems hundredfold.
That's the problem with technology.
No matter how advanced it may be, it only takes
a nanosecond of human stupidity to bring it down.
You can send warnings out until
the cows come home, but somebody will still log
on to their e-mail and start clicking away without
taking the necessary half-second to stop, take
a closer look, and think: "Just what the
hell am I doing here?"
Former Congressman Fred Grandy was
one of those idiots. Grandy now runs Goodwill
Industries. He walked into his office on Thursday,
pulled up his e-mail and clicked on the "I
Love You" e-mail attachment, even though
his in-box also contained a warning from his computer
Zap. The virus went out to more
than a hundred of the nation's top CEOs, courtesy
of the man whose greatest claim to fame is playing
a character named "Gopher" on TV's old
"Love Boat" series.
"I felt like an idiot,"
Grandy told a reporter. Well, at least he's honest
Which brings up an interesting question.
Why is it that people who may have all the smarts
in the world turn into absolute morons once they
sit down in front of a computer?
Every day, we get e-mails from people
passing on a phony press release about the "Congressional
plan to tax Internet e-mail." The release
talks about a House bill 602p sponsored by a Congressman
It doesn't take a membership in
Mensa to bop over to http://www.house.gov
and check to see if there is a Congressman named
Tony Schnell or a bill 602p. Those who click over
easily discover no such Congressman or House bill
exists (in fact, that ain't the way House bills
But instead, most people just click
the "forward" button on their e-mail
and send this piece of lunacy to everyone in God's
known universe just to show how incredibly moronic
they can be.
And don't forget the e-mail that
claims Bill Gates of Microsoft and Steve Case
of America On-line will pay you to use their browser.
We got that proof of idiocy from CEOs of Fortune
1000 companies, which may explain why the stock
market is in such disarray.
It's time people realized that a
computer on their desk is not a license to stop
thinking or an excuse to abandon common sense.
A computer doesn't make you smarter, but recent
events prove it sure can make you look a lot more
So stop believing the machine can
think for you.
Try using your brain before clicking
on your mouse.
Who knows? It might start a fad.
(Doug Thompson is the founder of Capitol Hill
Blue. The Rant appears on Mondays, Wednesday and
Fridays or whenever the mood suits him)