On Evil

I stirred up some controversy on App.net today, but among this was an incredibly salient point. Before I get to that, a little context.

The conversation1 was about Google and the topic of this conversation was “Evil”. You can now see why I was involved.

Anna Tarkov chimed in to say:

@duerig @benbrooks @jbouie I just want to chime in to say I agree. I think the way we use words is incredibly important. Language has meaning and we should be cautious. If Google is evil, if Microsoft is evil, etc, then “evil” ceases to mean anything.

I knew this. I knew this. And yet I forgot it. We all seem to have forgotten it. Perhaps because Google famously says “Don’t be evil” is their motto we feel free to use evil when we disagree with that Google does. Even that motto doesn’t mean we should lower the debate, and devalue the meaning of ’evil’, by applying it to a technology company that has yet to, and may never actually do, something truly worth calling evil.

Evil should be reserved for truly evil things, just as using the word “rape” should always be reserved for actual instances of rape. I’m glad to be reminded of this.


  1. Or whatever you want to call it, I don’t care. 

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Article Details

Published
by Ben Brooks
1 minute to read.


tl;dr

I stirred up some controversy on App.net today, but among this was an incredibly salient point. Before I get to that, a little context. The conversation1 was about Google and the topic of this conversation was “Evil”. You can now see why I was involved. Anna Tarkov chimed in to say: @duerig @benbrooks @jbouie I […]