complex apathy won’t go away

AndyITGuy has a piece up on his blog: No incentive to end apathy. I agree with some of what he says, but I’ll also take a hastily-composed counterpoint for the sake of it!

In it, he says, “In many other parts of our life we are expected to know and do the right thing and if we mess up we pay.”

…unless you want to sue someone and make *them* pay! We have a very ‘point-fingers-first’ attitude when things go wrong, these days. I’m not saying that’s healthy, but that’s what I see, largely pimped by mainstream media.

Andy ultimately takes the position that we have a problem where users are not taking personal responsibility for their online activities because entities like the banks are removing the incentives to do so. (I’d say that’s like expecting children to learn proper behavior when you never actually punish them for anything…except I have no children so I better not go there!)

I always get back to my two core analogies: car maintenance and home security. I’ll try not to belabor those examples, but the core idea is that these topics are not difficult to think about, to attempt to solve, or understand the costs/risks. Yet still, many people put both their car (and lives/others) and their personal safety at risk.

And we want to think they can understand and ever act accordingly online? I don’t think so. One thing I continue to need to come to terms with is my proximity to all things cyber since I was 15 years old or so, or more appropriately, being interested in security since about 23. So many of my family, friends, coworkers still just don’t understand it. And by it I mean both security and how the Internet works, or the dangers therein, or how attackers can do things. These are still advanced topics to those who barely grasp the fundamentals.

Even setting that aside at the moment, the problem gets ever more disheartening when someone does some commonly smart things to protect themselves, but then makes one mistake and they’re pwned. They hop on a wireless network at a con, accidentally click a link that takes them somewhere, or legitimately click a link to a place they wanted to visit but didn’t know is just a flytrap or already pwned themselves. Or they write a sex thesis and think it is just a private joke shared with a couple friends but winds up posted to the world. What is one to do?

I’m certainly not saying it is hopeless to educate the masses, but I can’t envision them ever “getting it” enough to put a dent in the problem. Still, I’m not happy either for the shielding people get for their personal failures. *shrug* This is a thorny topic…admittedly.

I wonder if the Middle Ages had any equivalent problem. “Stop buying that useless ointment from that trickster! It’s making you sicker!” “Stop paying for those pardons, God doesn’t need your money!”

I will say one thing: If someone mugs me on the street, do I get to blame someone and they will repay my money? Or if my house is broken into, what recompence am I entitled? What if I didn’t opt for suitable insurance? Will I just get a lecture on how I shouldn’t have been walking on that street at night or should have had some guard dogs?