Depending on how familiar you are with the online community, you may or may not be aware of the recent debacle surrounding Sony and its millions of playstation network users worldwide. I'm one of them. Figurative torches and forks-for-pitching are being raised by angry online mobs, disappointed that their credit card information, address, phone number, and name, along with their playstation IDs and passwords were obtained by a shadowy figure who lives in the seedy underbelly of the illegal computer manipulation world -- a haxorz. People are angry.
I don't really do angry.
I remember the last time I got really angry. I was 14 and I had just ordered chicken balls from a local chinese restaurant I love. Being a gluttonous little 14-year old, I wanted them all, and my brother decided to take them from me by force. While he tried to rip them from me, I swung at his face. I missed, and he didn't hit back. He made it clear in no uncertain terms that I had almost made a big mistake. I have a wonderful brother. Even so, that was more spontaneity than it was anger. But I digress.
Aside from the fact that it's been years since I was properly angry, many are. A criminal broke into an institution and stole our information. While we expect the people we give our information to to go to means to protect it, they can't be invincible. Nobody can. Every one everywhere -- Google, Microsoft, Sony, Hotmail, Facebook, Yahoo: they are all subject to the actions of hacking thugs.
Maybe this makes us uncomfortable because it's in the digital world which many don't well understand, but this liability is no different from the liability of banks, workplaces, retail stores, etc. Physically or digitally, they are subject to crime, and by being born on this Earth you have run the risk of being victimized. Still, we accept that while doing what we can to stop it, the joy of the evenings we spend with our loved ones eating home made lasagna around a game of Trivial Pursuit supercedes the rare moments in our lives when crime afflicts us, and usually, noneffectually.
Why then are so many angry?
Because we need someone to blame.
The truly creative lengths to which we will go to find people to blame is often astonishing. Some examples of these are so omnipresent, we understand them implicitly. We may defend our children to a fault: It may be the teacher, the schoolmate, the video games, the media, but it certainly wasn't my child's nature that caused him/her to act this way. Then there's always the ubiquitous 'other side,' an opponent to be blamed. Whether republicans blame democrats, the French blame the Americans, or the Yankees blame the Mets. Then, blasphemously, in anger and dejection, we blame God for our hardships, abandoning all logic. It may make no sense to attribute to God omnipresence, allowing him to do everything, while denying that in his omniscience he knows best what should be done. It makes little difference: Without an exterior target on which to focus our negativities, we would surely explode. In fact, it is so pivotal that this role be filled that we have an elected official to carry the blame for all hardship to happen in our country -- the President of the United States.
Many things affect the approval ratings of the President. Gas prices are a big one, the laws being passed are another, and of course the economy -- all things which the President has either no part in, or a lesser part than many other key players. After all, the construct of the constitution is designed in such a way as to explicitly deny any individual such control over the country. When President Bush decided to go to war in Iraq, his decision was ratified by the Senate, 100 elected officials from both sides of the political spectrum. President Obama can't 'pass' a healthcare law at all, he can only present it to be voted on, and voted on it was, by the other dozens of people we elected. Why then do we blame these men for actions they do not, ultimately, have the final say on?
Well, this is why.
After all, if we didn't have someone to blame, why we'd have to be reasonable. We'd have to become informed voters who follow our senator's decisions in the house, and what lobbyists he meets with. We'd have to acknowledge that our greatest economic troubles are not the nation's, but the fact that we rack up credit card debt without remorse and purchase houses we can't afford. We'd have to invest in renewable energy sources and maybe trade in our hummers for a prius - or, heaven forbid, a leaf. We'd have to accept that society's problems are caused by -- big shocker -- society. That is, us, the collective 'we.' We would have to accept that we are to blame.
That sounds like no fun at all.
As long as it's someone else's fault, and not mine -- I don't have to change myself.
Which is great. Right?