Stupid, Not Evil

Over the weekend I was catching up on my reading. It’s way too easy to fall behind given the pace at which content – useful content – presents itself into my various methods of listening.

English: Rheinkirmes 2006, Düsseldorf, Germany...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One theme that popped up several times was that of allegedly evil actions on some company’s part. Maybe it was the revised Facebook Messenger application which seems to be gathering anything and everything about anyone who installs it on their mobile device. Other were highly suspect of Apple’s intentions as it rolls out the Apple Watch which is capable of gathering quite a bit more data than we might care to share about ourselves. I mean do I really want my pulse rate out there?

There were several more but it got me to thinking. Having worked with many clients and companies over the years, could I recall an instance where some nefarious ulterior motive was discussed as products or services were rolled out?


That said, I have seen many instances where those sorts of evil intentions could plausibly be ascribed without stretching the facts to suit that scenario.  After all, in my mind a complete lack of care for other people or who one’s actions harm them is what separates good from evil.  But honestly, it’s more likely to be something else: stupidity.

My guess is that in most of the cases where an app or service over reaches there isn’t evil intent.  It is probably just someone being stupid.  They think it’s ok to gather data just because they can or that they might want it at some point.  They may be programmers who think they’re being helpful but haven’t had any supervision from a businessperson.  One key in my mind to great decision-making is to consider the consequences of that decision.  I suspect that thinking never happened.  In other words, stupid.

I’m not naive.  There are evil people out there.  However, before we go crazy calling for the heads of whomever released an app that gathers a lot of seemingly unnecessary information about us and our habits, perhaps we should remember that there are way more stupid people than there are those who are truly evil.  That’s my take.  Yours?

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