I remember, when I was much younger in college, researching the beginnings, growth, and history of Microsoft for an economics semester paper.
Now that is a tainted road. All sorts of hijinks going on, some less mature than others, and some more prosecutable, if anyone could come up with the last shred of evidence, than others. As someone who was brought up to be righteous and good and correct, such immorality shocked me, and made me swear off Microsoft products forever because they were so evil. And I was young and naive enough to think the worst of anyone willingly working for Microsoft. It was easy to judge; just hang around Slashdot, and there was plenty of support.
A decade later, I look at that earlier me and wonder: was I ever such a twit? Was I ever a twit enough to condemn every person working for a company because I didn’t believe in its goals? Or enough of a twit to be so unforgiving that the slightest action I disagreed with should result in my perma-banning products from my life?
Oh. Right. I was. I learned, much later in life, of the good things that Microsoft did as well; and only later did I have the perspective to appreciate how much Microsoft has changed technology for the better—and, sometimes, for the worst. And sometimes ineptly. Such is life.
So later on, when people started tearing Google up the ears, I started to question getting along with the mob mentality. Yes, there are things they do I don’t agree with. But that isn’t everything; some things they do, I do agree with. Some things that I agree with they do very well. And, perhaps in the end, the difference is that I know people at Google, and they aren’t evil. And nowadays I know people at Microsoft, and they aren’t evil either.
And these days, I have enough knowledge to be able to distinguish between separate departments at Google and Microsoft, because not all people think alike, especially not in large corporations.
The thing is, people aren’t perfect, and companies, despite not being people, are in the end run by people who aren’t perfect. We aren’t going to agree all the time; they’re not going to be idiots all of the time. Ideological purity is a poor filter for life, despite how easy it is to implement, because then you can pretend the world is black and white when it isn’t.
These days I tend to roll my eyes at decisions made due to ideological purity. Such as, “I will never read this author again because I found out he was a Conservative,” or maybe, “I will never buy Microsoft products because they cheated on the competition” ((That would eliminate an awful lot of companies from the ideologically pure life, because no big company ever existed without breaking eggs, much as I hate using that argument.)), or, “I’ll never buy Tor books again because such a lot of their authors were involved in RaceFail,” or perhaps, “I will never vote for an Obama ticket again because Obama screwed up with DADT,” and even, “This health care bill should die, because it hasn’t got a public option even though it has additional health insurance regulations to keep insurance companies from screwing over people.” Or, you know, the Republican ideological purity test, which has actually been half-standardized now by the RNC, which is… an interesting way for the “Don’t Tread On Me” party to go.
I want to believe in a world where I could rule someone as all-good or all-bad, much less companies, but that gets harder and harder the older I get, because I run into so many of my own imperfections. For instance, I know a lot of people sympathize with me because my parents were nightmare-level abusive. How would you feel about me if I told you I actually did come up with ways, almost every day past the age of ten perhaps, of killing my father? Or if I told you about the times when I screamed at my mother in anger and threw things at her the way my father did? How about if I told you that I have this strange little peccadillo, donchaknow, of burning the people I get close to because I tend to interpret closeness as a precursor to betrayal, even though I know in my head that it’s not, and react as only I can?
And what if I told you that wasn’t the worst of it?
Many people think I’m fine to work alongside of, or to do business with. But every single person I’ve gotten close to on a personal level has ended up really regretting that they ever bothered to make the connection. ((So if I push you away, or seem stand-offish, or get terribly nervous if I like you even in only a friendly rather than romantic way, that’s why. It’s not you, it’s me. Funny, I never thought I would say that phrase.))
People do stupid and bad things (multiple). That doesn’t make them any less stupid, or devalue pointing out that such things are stupid, or acting upon that judgement. On the other hand, the same people can also do smart and good things (multiple). I used to think Pratchett and Gaiman were exaggerating when they commented on the phenomenon in Good Omens repeatedly.
If there’s really a purity test in life, I fail it. I think, actually, most people would. Perhaps the ones who don’t really are the ones who should be making all the decisions for the rest of us.
Until then, I suppose most of us must get on with morally imperfect lives.