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Shady Illuminations


by John Shade

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  John thinks users are a grinding noise in the gears of progress.  

Remember the good old days, when your computer arrived via Railway Express? And you opened the box and it was just a bag of parts? Remember? And after you assembled it and made a few trips to Radio Shack to replace the defective components and got it working, if you wanted to actually do anything with it you had to write the software yourself? In 8008 assembly language? And enter it one bit at a time through toggle switches? Remember those glory days?

OK, maybe you don’t. Take my word for it, computer users back then had grit.

Computer users today are grit. They’re a grinding noise in the gears of progress. They’re a bunch of wimps with a highly developed sense of entitlement. Present company excepted, of course.

I place in evidence as Exhibit 1 the “Facebook, I want my friends back” meme.

Facebook is not letting you see all the posts of all your friends. Not unless they pay for the privilege. Your friends are being held for ransom. It’s a stick-up, it’s robbery, it’s bait and switch.

Well, one of those hysterical claims is right. It is bait and switch. That’s a social media business model being taught in Harvard Business School now. Monetizing Technology Ventures through Bait and Switch, three credits. But just because you’re the carp in the metaphor that doesn’t mean we have to listen to you carp over Facebook charging for what you’ve been getting for free. Facebook went public. This means it has to answer to stockholders. It has to have a business model now.

Oh, and there’s the fact that this is actually a benefit to people with large friends lists. But the part that I like is the sense that Facebook is stealing something from anybody. That sense of entitlement.

Then there’s the “Apple is forcing me to upgrade twice a year” meme.

Right, Apple is ripping you off if it shortens its upgrade cycle. Because you are forced to buy every new model, so they get twice the money. This obviously calls for a revolution. Apple customers have to rebel against the oppressive regime and, and, not buy every new model that comes out. Nice try, Apple, one guy sneers, I’ll see you in two years.

Well, yeah. It’s a bold assault on the castle, but it just might work.

John Shade was born under a cloud in Montreux, Switzerland, in 1962. Subsequent internment in a series of obscure institutions of ostensibly higher learning did nothing to brighten his outlook. He’s not looking for a handout or a hand-up, but he has been told that he could benefit from a handler. Follow John on Twitter, send him your feedback, or discuss the article in the magazine forum.