Because endless growth and data collection is the foundation of their business, and that necessitates doing gross invasive things to their users.
They need you to feed the beast, and they certainly don’t want you to think about it. So they use cartoon animals and sneaky happy paths to make sure you stay blissfully ignorant.
Using software is inherently a handshake agreement between you and the service provider. It’s not unlike paying for a physical service.
The problem is, many of the dominant software makers are abusing your handshake in increasingly dastardly ways. They treat their customers like sitting ducks — just a bunch of dumb animals waiting to be harvested. And when growth slows, they resort to deceptive and creepy tactics to keep the trend lines pointing skyward.
We have a system-wide problem with embedded growth hypotheses that is turning us all into scoundrels and liars.
It takes place just about everywhere, and when exponential growth ran out, each of these institutions had to find some way of either owning up to a new business model or continuing the old one with smoke mirrors and the cannibalization of someone else’s source of income.
There is no higher God in Silicon Valley than growth. No sacrifice too big for its craving altar. As long as you keep your curve exponential, all your sins will be forgotten at the exit.
It’s through this exponential lens that eating the world becomes not just a motto for software at large, but a mission for every aspiring unicorn and their business model. “Going viral” suddenly takes on a shockingly honest and surprisingly literal meaning.
The goal of the virus is to spread as fast as it can and corrupt as many other cells as possible. How on earth did such a debauched zest become the highest calling for a whole generation of entrepreneurs?
Because the core assumption is that growth is always good, growth is always unlimited, and if you’re not growing you’re dying. Swim or sink, no wading.
It’s the banality of moral decline.
Principles are no match for the long-term corrosion of market realities and expectations. The levies will break, the good intentions will flood.
If something is creating revenue, it’s your solemn duty to keep milking and pumping until it’s done! Extract every cent, then move on to the next mining effort.
The fancy word for that is fiduciary duty. To grow as fast as inhumanely possible is not just a goal, but a responsibility. A moral obligation to THE MARKET. And the theory goes, the market is all of us*. So you’re actually serving your community. All that is bad is good again once you change the tint of your glasses. If you sense something rotten, you just need a new prescription. Now you’ll see as clear as fog that this is ACTUALLY ABOUT ETHICS IN BUSINESS.
It’s a hyper-evolutionary process that rewards the most extractive, most addictive, most viral strain from the cohort. The key measurement is ENGAGEMENT. Who cares about the virtue of the endeavor, as long as your product is maximally addictive.
The solution isn’t simple, but we’re in dire need of a strong counter culture, some mass infusion of the 1960s spirit. To offer realistic, ethical alternatives to the exponential growth logic. Ones that’ll benefit not just a gilded few, but all of us. The future literally depends on it.
Behaviorism and surveillance at school. Behaviorism and surveillance at work.
The making of the automatron class.
“And that, increasingly, is the dividing line in modern workplaces: trust versus the lack of it; autonomy versus micro-management; being treated like a human being or programmed like a machine.”
The people who run the world are all heavily invested in stocks and their markets only have an appetite for one thing: growth. The last 40 years has seen an insatiable demand for monetary growth from these investors. This has led all corporations to keep wages low, bonuses huge, and push extreme consumerism as a norm. This is all to convince investors of yet more future growth. The stagnation of wages has impoverished even the lives of middle class families from needing one working parent to needing both in work. All parents, poor and middle-class, all now return home every evening tired and robbed of family time. Any housework is rushed and children in most homes are left staring at screens while parents complete house chores or just drink alcohol to relax.
The way in which society has been restructured by the banks and markets, particularly since around 1980, has reduced the quality of life for all and made all families poor in energy and time. This mold that currently shapes society needs to be broken by considerable regulation, so as to share wealth more equally and give back families their time and dignity. Unless society can break this mold, we will only see increasing levels of stress reduced well-being.