Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Did Anyone Get the Number of that IP

by Charles Harmison (writer), Kauai, Hawaii, April 22, 2007


A couple of months ago I was the victim of a very nasty little computer bug that all but destroyed my computer. The virus was so insidious that it killed my CD-DVD drive, my hard drive, and it somehow severed the connection between the motherboard and the RAM memory. Even after I would delete everything and restore my computer to its factory specifications the virus would somehow remain in the registry and continue its nefarious activities.

I tried everything. Finally, I had to pony up and fork over nearly $400 to completely replace parts and literally burn my hard drive clean. So now that I finally have a working computer again, needless to say, I'm more than a tad gun shy.

There really is no guaranteed solution to the computer virus problem. In most cases the anti-virus programs available cause more problems then they solve. I have such a huge anti-virus program at work in my system tray right now, I needed to upgrade my memory just to run it and still operate normally. Even worse, since the programs are constantly updating and demanding me to pay more money to renew their subscription, one begins to feel like you've brought into your life, a certain organization usually headed by somebody's Godfather to maintain the "protection" of your PC. There really isn't that much difference.

I am a reasonably computer savvy individual. I know a little about both the OS and the internal hardware of a PC. When my family wants to know stuff they call me, and I almost always have had an answer or told them what to do. But I'm not a computer nerd. I don't know a Dll from a DIR. I don't know what a hacker even does. And though I was raised alongside PC like two kids in the hood, I have obviously been left behind.

I remember the days playing Oregon Trail and Carmen San Diego in my fancy 386 computer pods in the second and third grade. I remember a large plastic case of vinyl black, 5in disks which I had to tell my Dos operating system to "Load" and then "Run". And before I start sounding like a old man on the porch with a whistle on every "s", I just wanna say I am starting to feel like I need to go back to school just to avoid paying to play.

What causes this need for such extreme Virus protection? Having spent a great deal of time reading message boards trying to solve these past month's computer woes, I found that far more knowledgeable people than myself had horror stories to tell that made mine look like a campfire sing along. These people were IT nerds and some of them lost tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment to hackers and computer viruses. This problem is not limited to us out there that actually could learn a thing or two from paging through the Dummies Guide to PC's.

So what causes this problem? Or perhaps, the better question might be, how can we prevent these modern day barbarians from their rape and pillage?

The darkness which covers over these criminal invasions to our security is anonymity. It is the shroud that allows the unmitigated behavior of everything from sexual predators, to DVD pirates, to some jerk rattling off their racist and cruel opinions on an otherwise respectable internet news site.

There is a psychological study which measures morality called Lawrence Kohlberg's Six Stages of Moral Development. According to this study a child's first step in the process of moral development is the fear of punishment from a authority figure which is watching over them. This first stage also translates to those members of our society, who, while adult, still require an authority in place like the penal system to ensure that they don't walk around killing and taking from whomever they please.

There are, five more stages of development ending in the social contract at stage five and something called "universal principles" at stage six which nobody scores unless you're Jesus, or even better, Lawrence Kohlberg. I won't go much further into them except to say that all require that a person is held accountable for his or her actions.

The ability to remain anonymous in cyberspace is psychologically challenging our moral and ethical framework. It is allowing a person to walk down the dark path of immorality, comfortably, avoiding the punishment that their abusive behavior naturally incurs. What they don't realise is that this punishment is to their benefit.

Whether it be in a society of laws, on TV's Survivor, or in the bushes of Africa, this natural checks and balances to mitigate our behavior has shaped our social lives since before we were monkeys and now, it would appear, for some it no longer applies.

Perhaps this doesn't seem like that big of a deal to you and maybe it isn't in the big picture. Perhaps you are like me and still enjoys being held accountable for your words and your actions whether posted to an article or posted to a chat room.

If you are not, consider this: according to Kohlberg, a person who does not develop along these six stages of moral behavior, (I suggest whether in cyberspace or in real social space), will one day find themselves without a fellow species. Remember this computer geeks everywhere, Gollum was once a Hobbit.

About the Writer

Charles Harmison is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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3 comments on Did Anyone Get the Number of that IP

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By brookekb on April 22, 2007 at 07:37 pm
hilarious photo! did you take that?
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By Charles Harmison on April 22, 2007 at 08:04 pm
No i got it from flikr lots of great stuff there
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By Steven Lane on April 22, 2007 at 08:13 pm
The photo is fabulous, lol. I have my head in the sand on the virus thing, I am sure I will get bit one day. I use that AVG free version, just so I didn't have to see Norton telling every five mins how long I had left on my subscription and how I had bought an instant ticket into virus-ville. They didn't stop after I let the subscription expire, I got messages everyday. I finally remove all bits of the program.
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