From Where I Sit – Can You Imagine?

Can you imagine a world in which computer geeks use their creativity and skill to create software instead of viruses and worms? I’ve had it up to here with receiving and deleting the same 200 or so virus-ridden spam, crap messages that these pinheads send out. I’ve paid for virus protection with automatic updates. I’ve paid my computer troubleshooter to purge my system. I’ve paid with my time and my patience.

Unfortunately, I’ve come to rely on email to send my columns and stories electronically to publishers, to distribute meeting minutes to my writers’ group, to correspond with a friend in Peterborough and to generally save time. Otherwise I’d scrap the whole damn thing and pull out my quill and ink well. Instead, I’m held captive by the technology.

I’ve been forced to change my email address. As I gradually let my essential contacts know I ask that they not send me any “forwards” no matter how funny, sad, of flattering they are, cuz life’s just too damn short.

Profilers have determined that these computer criminals tend to be young males with no other visible interests. Most of them eventually discover girls and cars or just plain grow up. But not before costing businesses and individuals countless billions of dollars in lost productivity. What kind of people have so little regard for others? Are the parents of these guys oblivious to what their children are doing? Perhaps some jail time would be a deterrent.

I use a computer much the same way I use a telephone or fax machine or VCR or electricity. I don’t understand what makes them work but I benefit nonetheless from someone else’s ingenuity, brainpower, and creativity.

Can you imagine a life without Bill Gates’ genius? Can you imagine if the people defacing rail cars and buildings with graffiti turned their talent onto canvas or paper or graphic design projects instead?

Last year I was stuck at a rail crossing in Edmonton for 15 or 20 minutes and watched dozens of cars go by. Each one was marked. Before long I began to differentiate the unique style of the different vandals. Though many of the words were indecipherable the designs were quite beautiful. As a practicing artist I know how long and hard most of us work to find our style. These guys already have it. But rather than using the talent for “good,” they choose the “evil” of defacing someone else’s property. They must work under cover of darkness because of the illegal nature of the activity. They aren’t paid for their efforts. They can’t take credit for their work or benefit from the exposure it gets. Dumb, dumb, dumb – no matter how you cut it.

I don’t have any bright ideas for identifying people who are misusing their God-given talents. I don’t have any answers for people who choose to hurt others through their actions. It’s simply a waste of talent and energy, from where I sit.

*Reprinted with permission