At lunch today, I watched a few minutes of an old Seinfeld episode in which George and Elaine are both trying to break up with their current partners. Elaine discovers that the secret her new boyfriend is hiding from her isn't that he has a wife (although he does) but the more embarrassing — and from Elaine's view, the more disqualifying — secret that he is poor. When she learns the truth, she buys her way out of the relationship. Things are trickier for George. The prototypical nebbish, he tells his girlfriend he's breaking up with her and she says no. As he explains it to Jerry, “My arguments in favor of breaking up didn’t persuade her beyond a reasonable doubt.” So George takes up with a woman from his office — someone he doesn’t like but who he thinks likes him — hoping that when the first girlfriend discovers his infidelity, she will get angry and leave him. Instead, he ends up with two girlfriends.
As the song says, breaking up is hard to do.
My story's not as amusing as George's or Elaine's, but there are similarities. I've been partnered, technologically speaking, with Google for a very long time. In the last couple of years, though, I've started to realize that Google owns me, and this makes me very uncomfortable. For me, Google hasn’t just been email: it’s been word processing and spreadsheets; blogging; photos; social networking; contacts; calendar; notes; bookmarks; file storage; video; and more. And all that for not one but both of my primary domains, my personal domain and my work domain.
I’ve also come to regard Google as — well, I’ll pull my punch here and just say that Google is not a force for good in the world. Certainly not as big a source for good as Google imagines it is. Google’s power is nearly absolute, and it is corrupting the world in a lot of ways.
So I want out. I tried to do this two years ago and it was just too difficult. But this time I'm completely serious.
I keep waiting for my computer to start talking to me. “I’m sorry, Dave, but I’m afraid I can’t do that.” But so far, it looks like I might actually make it out of here alive. If I do, I’ll have more to say in later posts. And yes, if I knew how to link to just this clip without using a service owned by Google, I'd do it!