Google has broken my heart and left me for another. It's a group actually, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and it can't have both of us at the same time. That's because ALEC, the love child of the Koch brothers, is the enemy of all that I hold dear and love about my country. ALEC is responsible for much of the cookie-cutter regressive legislation being passed in my state's legislature and across the country. This panoply of regressive legislation passed in the last year weakens labor rights, denies climate change with lies and propaganda, represses women's rights, disenfranchises minorities and the poor by limiting access to the ballot box, exacerbates income inequality by favoring tax structures for the super-wealthy, works against marriage equality, skewers internet privacy provisions, supports oil and gas drilling everywhere and renewable energy nowhere...the list goes on and on.
So Google, following in the footsteps of former nice-guy Facebook, has joined this group. And I'm heartbroken. But now, rather than allow myself to be further abused by what seemed like such a nice corporate entity -- it continuously spouted its "Don't Be Evil" motto repeatedly to me even as it's cheated on me again and again -- I'm breaking up with Google. I'm not pretending it's going to be easy. I've had messy break-ups before, and I know how painful and long they take to extract myself from. All the things we shared! The writing, the pictures, we even have lots of the same friends! But Google has used these things to manipulate me and keep me beholden and powerless to its right-wing, authoritarian tendencies, and today I'm taking the first step towards breaking free from its hold and regaining my life.
Even as I write this, Google is cheating on me with Ted Cruz! This slime ball, who would literally destroy our political system just to get a little extra TV time, gave a speech yesterday (Dec. 5th) and Google was all over it like white on rice. And it's been in bed with Jim Inhofe, the man who has done the most to kill the planet by spewing more lies about climate change than probably any man in the world. Want to read one of the ickiest, most insane things to be published anywhere in the last year? Check out ALEC's "The Many Benefits of Increased CO2 Emissions" (warning - link is a pdf!) and have your mind blown by its skulduggery. Surely, when your purported life-mate starts openly attempting to kill your mother, it's time to part ways.
I won't lie...breaking up is hard to do, painfully hard. I'll have to piece together different elements from across the web to remake my life there in internet land. I have a new email already at riseup.net, and I'm searching for alternate social networks that aren't backed by evil so I can still communicate with my friends. Unfortunately, Facebook is out because they hang with the same ALEC thugs as Google. Maybe you'll let me know if you have anyone I can go out on a social network date with? For the time being, I'll sit here with my broken heart, crying in my beer over another purported "good" partner who's turned out to be an abusive liar, going through photos and old emails, trying to not let the disillusionment sink down into paranoia...which I can already feel happening. Because now that I know Google is not who it says it is, and Facebook too, what's to keep the two of them from getting together and using their vast trove of data and spywear (Google Glass) to keep track on me and my friends wherever I go, on the internet and in real life? And tell my big brother about it too? And then, even if I try to break up with them, it will be useless, because I will no longer be their broken-hearted ex, I'll be their slave. But these might just be the ramblings of a jilted lover. Or maybe not...
Stephen Hren is the author of Tales from the Sustainable Underground: A Wild Journey with People Who Care More About the Planet than the Law.