I don’t get computer viruses.
Well, I do, unfortunately, in one sense. I got one on Monday. A nasty little beast sneaked past my antivirus software to infect my operating system, mark all my files as hidden, and create false error messages intended to generate panic and scramble files.
I consulted a specially trained professional who looked young enough to be moonlighting his way through middle school. He suggested that the fee for wiping the computer clean and reinstalling everything would be more than the value of the computer, given that it was four years old, which in computer years made it a doddering ancient. Seeing the sense in this, I decided to buy a new computer.
After one frustrating day of waiting for the new computer to be ready, followed by another frustrating day of transferring files, reinstalling software, and rounding up email addresses, I was cautiously back in business. I had lost a bunch of email files, a bunch of time, and a couple of software programs; I had gained a large dose of aggravation and stress.
I know how much the new computer cost me in dollars and cents. I don’t even want to think about what this virus cost me in terms of time, lost information, frustration, and aggravation.
What I don’t get about computer viruses is why. Most of them have no purpose other than to destroy. The only gain for the twisted minds who develop them is the vicious satisfaction of sowing destruction and chaos. It obviously takes a certain level of brilliant geekiness to create viruses in the first place. All those intelligent minds could be building and contributing something useful with their skills. For whatever reasons, they choose to destroy instead. It’s sheer maliciousness.
If I were in charge of such things, I would sentence the creators and disseminators of computer viruses to spend part of their days in bare rooms with nothing but plain paper and dull crayons. They would be required to write over and over, for hour after hour, “I will never do another bit of computer harm.”
The rest of their time would be spent doing hard physical labor, preferably cleaning out pigsties or sewers. They would be fitted with devices that would give them severe electric shocks if they so much as touched any type of electronic device. And, of course, they would have to repay in cold, hard cash everyone who had lost valuable time and data as a result of their evil creations.
Maybe, by then, they would have some understanding of the trouble they had caused. Maybe then they could explain to me why they thought creating computer viruses would be fun. Because I just don’t get it.