Guilty by association is a fallacy

GunWe all know that the Internet is different, but is it? The common sense rules we learn in real life should still be in effect in our virtual lives and this includes morality.

This post is about guilt by association. Here is why it just doesn’t work.

Say you are in a bank and suddenly a horde of masked gunmen rush in. ‘Everybody on the floor, NOW!’ you hear.

So you cower on the ground and you hear the shuffling of notes as money is being taken from the teller. Then one of the gunmen splits from the group with a white canvas sack half-open in hand, he starts asking for valuables from the people nearest you. As his cold steely-blue eyes stare into yours, the priceless wedding ring you inherited from your great grandmother descends into darkness and you know that is the last you’ll see of it. You can feel your face getting hot as you hold back your tears.

Who do you blame? Logically it’s the gunmen who took the money but maybe you are blaming yourself for deciding to go into the bank on that particular day but whatever you do, you do not blame the other people in that room who were on that floor with you.

Another example of why guilt by association does not work is say your wife was killed by a one armed man. You are being taken to a maximum security prison but manage to escape. No one believes you but you saw that one armed man. Do you go around like some vigilante murdering all one armed men while evading the incredibly sexy Tommy Lee Jones, the US Marshall?

No, you find out who was really responsible and take them to book. Preferably in the courts where they can assess evidence.

So when you feel you have been wronged in the virtual world, just think before you act. Everything is documented somewhere so your behaviour has to be above reproach as well as your adversary. Let your wrath follow proper channels and fall on the right person or persons not innocent bystanders. Guilt by association is a fallacy. And if you don’t believe me there is a good article on Wikipedia which goes into more detail.

In case you are wondering what I would do if I felt wronged, I blame myself, rant awhile and then move on. Every mistake I make, makes me a stronger person and just a little wiser. My advice? Unless your partner was murdered or the world is about to end, learn from your mistakes and move on. You’ll know better next time. Just don’t believe in that little thing called collateral damage. Innocents are the ones that get hurt.

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