The Church of GTFO

“That’s good to know, but what did Rusty think of them?”
“He said he’d happily hire them”
“Well that’s all I need to know, that guy really doesn’t abide fools”

Do you ever hear something about yourself, that makes you realise there’s a part of you, that you didn’t even know existed? The above is a conversation I overheard almost a decade ago now when two people were discussing whether or not to hire a recent applicant. The Rusty was me, but I don’t abide fools? What does that even mean? That one overheard conversation made me aware of just how many things in my life I hold up to a critical light, and discard when they don’t hold up to careful examination.

I was raised as a fundamentalist Christian by my mother from a young age. As I grew up I became really involved in the Church. Eventually I became a youth leader, organising events for hundreds of young people, giving regular sermons from the platform, I became everything expected of a young man in that organisation. Then came the day they asked me to take on the role of ‘Area Leader’. That day made me stop, and examine everything I believed in. I know it sounds funny in hindsight, but I hadn’t ever taken the time to think it through before that. What I believed was true, because it was true. Everything I heard in the Church was true, because everyone else affirmed it to be true. Well it was, until I spent time critically examining everything I believed in. Like a house made of cards, it all collapsed, unceremoniously and silently to the floor. This, as far as I was concerned, left me with only one thing I could do. I explained to everyone that I no longer believed, and wished them well with their endeavours. Being a fundamentalist church 99% of them immediately stopped talking to me, but that is a story for another day.

I’m not here to keep telling you my life story, and in truth I have no regrets. I met some great people and to this day I have no fear whatsoever of public speaking, since I did that from a young age. I share the above story because as much as I hate to admit it, a lot of people treat Apple and Google like their own personal churches. They think their company is better than all others, that whatever they do should be viewed in a different light to everything else. They have common wisdoms and sayings that they repeat over, and over, and over again. They surround themselves in a virtual echo-chamber of like minded attendees and repeat the sayings of Gruber, Nickinson et al. And should you dare to challenge them on those beliefs? You get the same reaction I did when I explained to my former church friends why I’d become an atheist. I’m not going to stretch this analogy to breaking point, it is just an analogy after all. I don’t recall hearing of anyone praying to Marco to watch over them while they sleep. My point is simply that from time to time, it helps to stand back and consider things a bit more objectively. Perhaps we all view life through various lenses and being aware of at least some of them, could be a good thing.

I recently went to Google I/O, I switched to using an Android phone and I’m wearing an Android Wear watch. I talk about all of those things not because I’ve had some miraculous conversion to the church of Google, but simply because I find them interesting. When I write about my experience, it’s not to convert you. I honestly don’t give a damn what phone you have in your pocket or which laptop you use. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I, like most geeks, am one of those people that try to steal glances at people’s phones when they pull them out in public. What’s on her home screen? Does he have a weird case? Is that a crack? OMG not a screen protector, WHY would you do that to a screen?!

Honestly I’m just tired of people who identify with one and only one company. While you’re talking to them, they are too busy figuring out how to counter what you’re saying to listen. Please stop. Companies aren’t churches, they aren’t sports teams. If I use a Google phone and an Apple laptop there’s no contradiction there. Technology is absolutely amazing. Sometimes I feel like most people I meet are so busy taking sides that they aren’t stopping to appreciate the innovation and wonder being delivered by so many companies today. Taking snarky pot shots at products is so easy, heck even I do it occasionally. Stopping to actually marvel and enjoy them, well that’s much harder.

I tried to convey some of this on the latest episode of Pragmatic. I mostly failed, but if you’re out of podcasts, go listen: