I’ve been working on my fitness this year. The end of last year I was working with weights to build some muscle and because I was too lazy to be careful with what I was eating, I ate everything and anything. I got to my heaviest and then decided it would make a new challenge to get my six-pack back.
So I could keep an eye on how hard I was working when I was doing cardio, I thought I’d get a Fitbit type watch to track my heart rate. I did some research and saw that the Microsoft Band 2 was one of the most accurate. The reviews were good, but it was three times the cost of a Fitbit. I figured a lot of people would get them and then not use them much so looked for a second-hand one.
So I got one and it worked great. I was able to track my workout and sleep.
The rubber band developed a split.
I looked around online to work out how to get it repaired and found that pretty much everyone else who used the watch had the same problem after 2-3 months. Worse still, there was no way to just change the strap as the sensors run through them and people’s experiences with Microsoft support weren’t typically helpful. I thought I’d give it a try anyway and chatted to a Support Desk Agent.
She said they wouldn’t fix it if it was out of warranty. Mine was as it hadn’t been used. She also admitted that the Engineers had known about the problem, but sold them anyway. As an individual she was empathetic, but the corporate line was ‘tough’. I did ask if there was anything I could do myself. She said I could buy another one on Amazon.
As if I’m going to buy a product she and I knew was a dud that would be useless in a couple of months.
Apparently, internet reports say the whole product line has been pulled as they couldn’t resolve the problem. However, to me, that seems to be immoral. To continue selling something that you know isn’t fit for purpose and fail to recall the product or offer to repair it. But then Microsoft has a reputation among many as being ruthless or even ‘evil’, allegedly being the inspiration for Google’s motto of ‘Don’t Be Evil’.
My rambling isn’t to update you on my fitness progress, though it is going well :-), but because it highlights something I think many people think unconsciously.
So Bill Gates founded Microsoft and is responsible for its culture, even if he is no longer running the show. He is claimed to have been ruthless and aggressive not only to his competition, leading to a number of legal problems, but also with his staff. It was effective in financial terms as it made him the richest man in the world, though hardly the most popular.
However, he decided to stand down from Microsoft and to spend the rest of his life giving away his billions to philanthropic causes. He will give away billions of pounds and undoubtedly fund some of the great solutions to our planet’s problems.
My question is… if Bill Gates in reality matches the perception I have of him… someone who made one of the biggest fortunes ever through bullying and crushing people and companies… and then changes the lives of thousands or millions… is he good or evil?
The real point of this question isn’t to debate Bill Gates or any one individual, but for you and I to decide what is true for us… can we do something wrong, but then fix it by doing something else that is right?
Because I believe there is a cultural myth that says you have to find a good, secure job that pays well and offers you career prospects and you do what you have to do because that’s what your Boss tells you to do. Then when you retire with a comfortable nest egg you can give your time and money to do good for the world.
So people mindlessly work for Pharmaceutical companies that hold ransom products that could save lives, for the sake of profits.
They work for oil companies that pollute and rape our planet.
They work for fashion and beauty companies that attempt to lower women’s self-esteem.
They work for financial companies that may misguide their customers for profit.
But they justify it with needing to pay their mortgage. Then they retire and give to charities and think how generous they are.
Like any other ethical issue, it is something we all have to decide for ourselves, but for me, one action doesn’t cancel out another. There is no balancing of accounts. Being a good person and feeling I make a positive impact on the world, depends on every interaction and every decision I make. I cannot do something I feel bad about and justify it because I have found an easier way to do some good. We all fall prey at times to our weaknesses and make poor decisions or hurt people, but you can never justify it by doing something completely separate and thinking that balances things out.