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Jim Kershner: Catching a virus no laughing matter, apparently

As a victim of a dreaded, debilitating computer virus, I want to make this heartfelt plea on behalf of my fellow virus sufferers: Don’t blame the victim.

I thought we had evolved, as a culture, beyond the Dark Ages, when sufferers of a disease were accused of bringing it upon themselves by consorting with the devil.

But consorting with the devil is what every single one of my co-workers and friends accused me of last week.

Here’s how the typical office banter went:

Co-worker: Hey, Jim, I hear your computer caught a virus. That’s what you get for visiting BustySpokaneLadies.com. HA HA.

Me: Ha ha. Go away.

Followed by:

Co-worker: Hey, Kershner, I told you not to do that “topless barista” search on Google Maps. HA HA.

Me: Go away.

After the 10th time, the hilarity had worn thin:

Co-worker: Hey, everybody! Kershner caught a virus! What’d I tell you? I told you’d catch something bad from WildRumpus.com! HA HA.

Me: (Silence.) (Black cloud forming over head.)

So you can imagine my mental state the 20th time somebody walked up and thought they were crafting the most original witticism since Aristophanes:

Co-worker: Little advice, pal. Stop clicking on HornDog.org.

Me: That’s the best you can come up with? HornDog.org? And you call yourself a writer? Get out of my sight.

Whatever happened to creativity? Whatever happened to originality? Maybe, if someone had been a little bit more clever and cracked a joke about getting infected by WebMD or maybe by MayoClinic.com or even SwineFlu.net, I might have emitted a fond chuckle.

But this is all hypothetical. Every single person went for the porn site gag.

The second most maddening thing was this: I’m no expert, but I would guess that catching a computer virus has nothing to do with visiting naughty sites. If you’re the kind of evil master-hacker who wants to infect as many computers as possible, you would want to plant your viruses in the most innocent and innocuous-looking places.

Most virus-sufferers probably never even know where the poisonous little seed was first planted. Maybe it was some email they never actually opened, or a random pop-up they tried to close. Or, maybe it was a “virus alert” that looked, on purpose, like a helpful hint from your anti-virus program.

I’m still not exactly sure where mine came from, but an innocent-looking website suddenly went berserk on me. Windows started popping up, warning me of viruses and malware. I knew enough not to click on any of them. But I couldn’t make them go away. I just shut the whole computer off. Yet it had already implanted itself.

Our computer doctors tried to treat it, but, as with cancer, it was hard to find every metastasized cell. So they eventually just performed a lobotomy on the hard drive, wiped it clean and started afresh.

The only problem is, I lost some of my favorite bookmarks.

Co-worker: Yeah, like MakingSpokane Whoopee.com?

Me: Ha ha. Go away.

Reach Jim Kershner at jimk@spokesman.com or (509) 459-5493.

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