Among our most human failings is that whenever something goes wrong, we look for something or someone–other than ourselves–to blame.
It seems no one is immune from this onerous tendency, even at the loftiest levels. For instance–way back when–a famous consumer of forbidden tree-hanging edibles looked skyward and whined: “Dont blame me. It was that woman creature you gave me.”
I think it truthfully can be said that throughout history, blame has been shifted more than the gears on a 1962 VW Beetle with a seven-figure odometer readout. Of course, placing blame doesnt always have to be a moral lapse, an attempt to make ourselves look better, or a neurotic defense mechanism, but it certainly is easier than owning up to responsibility for an oversight or failure.
One of the most deplorable trends in blamedom is to put the onus on something that cant defend itself, namely that insidious “villain”–technology. After all, if we blame a person for, say, a business failure, that person might fire back. He or she might even find a way to blame us!
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How much simpler and more elegant it is to say, “It was our old, faulty, outdated, inadequate technology that took this company down the tubes.” When we do so, much to our delight, the hardware stares back at us with nary a whimper of protest. The software remains respectfully functioning, or not, on the screens before us.
And, best of all, people actually buy this inane line of reasoning. They act as if the technology suddenly sprang unbidden from the buildings outlets and took over while we humans looked on helplessly. The idea that some person or persons planned, specified, purchased and configured the offending, inadequate, outdated technology never comes up, or is barely mentioned.
A recent story in Computerworld cited a House and Senate report blaming “an antiquated IT infrastructure,” along with infighting between the FBI and other intelligence agencies, for our nations 9/11 intelligence failure. While there was some human culpability here, at least half the blame was laid at the feet of the technology itself, as if inadequate databases were an excuse for one intelligence service not making a phone call to another. Incredible.
Despite the most horrendous cost, we blithely accept the inevitability of technology failure and ignore the human element of responsibility.
And what about another recent technology “failure,” the massive August power outage that plunged the entire Northeast into darkness? I find it fascinating that as of this writing, “authorities” have been unable to pin down the human cause, although companies were quick to jump up and proclaim, “It wasnt us!” Instead, the blame has been placed on our “antiquated” power grid, but few fingers have been pointed at the individuals who designed the system or at those who are responsible for maintaining that grid.