I do not watch the Golden Globes, or many other awards shows for that matter, but it was almost impossible to escape from some of the recent press about Ricky Gervais and his non-caring (his words, not mine) diatribe towards modern tech giants and other companies and people he had disagreements with. I leave you to peruse YouTube or other sources for more details.
On thing that struck me about all this was that he was jumping all over Tim Cook, stating that if Apple did indeed win any Golden Globes for their new Apple TV+ content (they did not) that they should not use the acceptance speech as a platform for platitudes of any kind. He was intimating, no, coming right out and saying actually, that because Apple ran “sweatshops” overseas to make its millions of iThings and billions of dollars that they would be hypocrites if they did anything more than simply walking up on stage, saying thank you and exiting stage left.
That got me thinking even more that I usually do about the government, the companies that we usually trust, the businesses that we buy from, and the people that we normally look to as embodiments of at least a modicum of good will and morality.
As a kid, I always looked forward to the fall, when my mother would take my brother and me to the local Sears store to buy school clothes and that wonderful new pair of sneakers. (PF Flyers, if memory serves) . Sears was America packaged in a fairly nice store with friendly people and had the bonus of a cool Christmas Wish Book that we all loved to page through to make our Christmas lists. Who didn’t like Sears, for God’s sake? As I grew up, given that retail background, guess where I always bought tires for my car? New appliances when one wore out? A new and better lawnmower when the time came for that? Sears. I didn’t know a thing at that time, even in my early adult life, about their overseas business practices, their stand on religion, how they felt about gay people, or any of the things that we gnash our teeth about today. They were a decent store that had decent people that treated us well and sold us a good product that gave us something lasting for our money. Period.
Flash forward to Apple. I ran my first solo practice on an Apple computer. It was much more expensive than I could afford, but I bought it and a companion software program that I knew would work, would serve my needs and help me take care of my patients, and that was that. Ten years or so ago, I bought my first iPhone, and I have had almost every one that Apple has built so far. (I did not buy an 11, as I will wait for this fall’s 5G offerings to see if they are worth the money) I remember being on my white MacBook reading about this newfangled gadget that was going to come out that would be a phone and let you listen to music and send emails and on and on. No way! Way! I knew that I would buy one of those as soon as it came out, no matter how much it cost. Early adopter, I am. Separated easily from my money, I am. At any rate, back then, I also did not know one thing about Apple’s stance on overseas production or tariffs or child labor or outsourcing or gay rights or any of it. I just know they made cool stuff that would help me do what I needed to do, I liked cool tech stuff and I would buy what they were selling.
Are you hungry? Do you like Chick-fil-A? I do. They have good food, excellent food. I like the superfood salad, the chicken soup, the grilled nuggets. The kids that work there are always nice, respectful, say please and thank you and have smiles on their faces. I have always enjoyed eating at this restaurant. I still do. They have angered a lot of people with their stances on gay rights, religion, other issues I suppose, so some folks have boycotted them. Okay, I get that.
Then there’s Amazon. I spend a lot of money and buy a lot of stuff from Amazon. I would have to say it’s my go-to online place to get stuff. I assume I am not alone in this. A lot of people do not like Amazon, Jeff Bezos, his world view, the way his marriage has gone, the fact that he owns a newspaper, how Amazon is purported to treat its workers, etc., etc. Two hour delivery of some items in urban areas is crazy, I know. What do I really need in two hours? Not much. The convenience, the sheer number of available items, the ease of returns, the ease of ordering, all of it tends to make our lives so much easier than they used to be in a lot of tangible ways. I am not opposed to this. I like it in many ways.
Are Sears in its current iteration (bless them), Apple, Chick-fil-A, Amazon and others perfect companies? No, of course not. Are they paragons of virtue, using best practices while paying their workers top of the line wages and benefits and caring primarily for their welfare? No, I think not. Do they use their retail bully pulpits to foist their opinions about religion, gay rights, marriage, guns, free speech, and other major issues of the day on others, unbidden? Yes, sometimes, yes. Do I always agree with their public stances on these and other issues when I hear about them in the news or on television shows or podcasts? No, of course not.
That being said, am I going to go over every balance sheet and news article about laborers in China and fret over records of gay marriages in all fifty states before I buy grilled nuggets or my next iPhone or order a gift for my granddaughter’s birthday? No, I am not. I absolutely am not.
I may be wrong about this, or I may be too uncaring like Ricky Gervais, or too naïve or whatever, but I’ll be damned if I am going to restrict my purchases of food, phones and happiness at this stage in my life just to do the politically correct thing. I am not going to vet every single day to day decision I make based on the societal correctness of its context, whether or not it offends a particular group, or whether it butts up against the minimum wage in a foreign country. Don’t get me wrong. There are ways to deal with these real life issues, and they should be dealt with. But I’m sorry, Mr. Gervais, what Tim Cook says or does not say when his television shows win or do not win a Golden Globe is not going to be the deciding factor next fall when I decide to buy an iPhone or its Samsung counterpart.