I don’t like where we are with mega corporations like Google, Facebook, Amazon, and so on. I don’t have anything against the people who work there, but I have a problem with how these people as a collective make decisions.
They have undoubtedly contributed a ton to technological innovation and created a great amount of welfare. Unfortunately, decisions they made also led to negative outcomes for a lot of people.
I’m sure there’s an argument to be made that, still, the world is better off having these firms around. However, I disagree. I don’t think that the means justify the end.
How did we get here?
It’s a combination of things: Software products havig almost zero marginal cost, the lack of regulation on a political level because they don’t understand technology (plus legal bribery, more commonly known as lobbyism), short-sighted incentive structures by regulatory bodies, and probably some more things.
This allowed companies like Facebook and Google to put the advertising industry in hyperdrive mode, because people love free shit and can’t think long-term. The internet also supercharged what is possible in terms of economies of scale for firms like Amazon.
These companies have too much power, and that’s bad. There’s no such thing as a benevolent dictator.
What can we do to change this?
We can De-Google. That can mean many things. Politicians need to get their act together, so vote for representatives that seem serious about changing something. Alter your own behavior. The next time you want to order from Amazon, take a minute and check if there’s a good alternative. Use alternatives to search on the internet (I love DuckDuckGo). Use ProtonMail or Fastmail instead of Gmail.
In general, look actively for alternatives that are good enough. I know that DuckDuckGo is not as good as Google, but it’s good enough most of the time.
If we start using these good enough alternatives more, they get more money and users, and can improve over time. We have to give them the chance to get better, to catch up with those monoliths.
There’s one more thing you can do: Start your own company and compete with parts of what they are offering. First, it has never been easier to start a company. Second, there’s a cultural shift towards valuing privacy. Take advantage of it.
Let’s build a future where we have a lot of small companies instead of a few big ones.
Check out this Twitter thread to participate in the discussion.