I have recently become more perturbed by the behaviour of tech companies than usual. No, it is not so much that they release bug-ridden apps and programs to paying users, or severely overprice their consumer products without adding any meaningful innovation, or even that they spy on their customers at the behest of government.
No, my gripe with these flannel-wearing, Silicon Valley-dwelling, socially maladjusted cretins is that they indulge in incessant virtue signalling.
I first noticed Uber’s foray into this nonsensical practice when they drafted a firearm prohibition policy that effectively bans users and drivers from carrying guns while making use of their app:
Our goal is to ensure that everyone has a safe and reliable ride. That’s why Uber prohibits riders and drivers from carrying firearms of any kind in a vehicle while using our app.*
Anyone who violates this policy may lose access to Uber.
Now let us take a few steps back from the precipice and realise that this florally-worded policy is all but unenforceable. Uber drivers are not full-time employees, but inhabit a comfortable grey area hovering somewhere between being contractors and self-employed. Considering that an Uber driver has to make use of their own vehicle when operating, it is unbelievably haughty of a company to think that they can dictate terms and conditions to what you may possess in your own vehicle, especially if you are fully compliant with local laws when doing so.
What makes the failure of the policy even more spectacular is that Uber has repeatedly failed in assuring the safety and security of their drivers and customers, with more than a few in South Africa being kidnapped, robbed, assaulted, and raped. To add insult to injury, the company has taken a position bordering on outright victim blaming in how they chose to respond to these incidents:
Maughan says that Uber suggested that somehow traumatised passengers are complicit in their own victimhood.
This phenomenon of outright arrogance is not limited to South Africa, but is a feature of their conduct in the United States as well:
All said, Uber makes it very clear that it won’t be held responsible for their customer’s safety. (Uber did not respond to multiple requests for comment on this story.) From the service’s terms and conditions:
“Uber does not guarantee the quality, suitability, safety, or ability of third party providers. You agree that the entire risk arising out of your use of these services, and any service or good requested in connection therewith, remains solely with you, to the maximum extent permitted under applicable law.”
So, basically, Uber will not under any circumstances accept any responsibility or accountability for the safety and security of their users. But they will happily put in place a policy that prevents users from protecting themselves without violating Uber’s terms and conditions. And in the event that something bad actually happens to you, and it becomes public, then Uber will try and shift the blame onto you…and charge you for the ride to boot. You can’t have your cake and eat it, my misguided friends. But then again, Uber is no stranger to shirking their responsibilities and behaving like the deplorable (sorry Hillary) bunch of hypocrites they are.
Fortunately for Uber they are not alone in the realm of hoplophobic retardation, but find themselves in the illustrious company of Apple.
Just because you have your product manufactured by what amounts to Chinese slave labour doesn’t mean you can’t virtue signal: Apple may not give you an iPhone with an earphone jack, but they will take your gun emoji away! As of the release of iOS 10 Apple users found their revolver emoticon replaced by a water pistol. The reason? Gun control. By changing the emoji, Apple has sent a message that “guns—real guns—have no place in our emoji vocabulary”. Which is singlehandedly one of the stupidest things I have read in a very long time, and for 2016 that is saying something.
I don’t think I need to elaborate on how little, if any, effect the removal of the handgun emoticon will have on actual violence. It is at best an empty, impotent, and infantile gesture aimed at appeasing a section of the populace so immature and emotionally underdeveloped that they are frightened and intimidated by a pixelated cartoon depiction of a handgun. At worst it is fascist, unilateral censorship of freedom of expression that could potentially cause much more harm than good.
Considering that Apple has taken such singular exception to the existence of handgun emojis, but are totally OK with the bomb and knife ones indicates that they aren’t so much opposed to violence as they are only to pictures of cartoon guns. Because goodness knows that is where the real problem lies.
In a completely unexpected twist of fate, Microsoft has gone in the completely opposite direction by announcing the replacement of their ray gun emoji with a handgun one. Which means that, perhaps for the first time in history, Microsoft has overtaken Apple as the more innovative and risk-taking organisation of the two. I can’t say I saw that coming, but every empire has its rise and its fall, and Apple is clearly no exception.
So what exactly can we as consumers do about this? I will not pretend to speak for the masses here, but I have personally made my mind up about the issue. I always carry. Every day, everywhere I possibly can. This includes whenever I make use of Uber. That’s right kids; I wipe my lavender-fresh bum with Uber’s obnoxious Ts and Cs. If they don’t like it, they can ban me. Uber is a convenience to me. A mere added extra in my eventful life. I don’t need them to get from point A to point B, and frankly if they ceased to exist tomorrow there are more than sufficient suitable alternatives for me to make use of. The only reason I even use Uber, is because their platform has thus far been the most convenient.
You see, I don’t need Uber: they need me and my money. Since they completely absolve themselves from taking any responsibility for my safety, I will do what I must to minimise risk to myself when making use of their service. Their pathetic little firearm prohibition policy is laughably unenforceable. Even in the event that I am banned from using them, the moment a friend summons an Uber there is absolutely nothing they can do from stopping me entering the vehicle and taking the ride.
As for Crapple, I have stubbornly refused to download and install iOS 10 on my aging iPhone 5. Considering that my contract is up for renewal shortly, and that they have literally put no product on the market I am interested in replacing it with, I will shortly return to the saner realm of Android.
Until then I will cling to my revolver emoticon in a Charlton Heston-esque fashion: “So, as we set out this year to defeat the divisive forces that would take freedom away, I want to say those fighting words for everyone within the sound of my voice to hear and to heed, and especially for you, Mr. Cook: From my cold, dead hands!”