An open letter to Google

To whom it may concern,

My name is Joseph Vasicek, and I have been a regular user of your company’s products since 2006 when I set up my first Gmail account. Until the events of the past week, I was also a satisfied user.

The recent firing of James Damore over the controversial internal memo titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” has profoundly shattered my trust in your company. I have read the memo and find it eminently moderate and well-reasoned. It is not an “anti-diversity screed,” as many in the traditional news media are calling it, and their characterization of the memo–as well as your own characterization, given by your vice president of diversity, Danielle Brown–is manifestly false to anyone who has actually read it.

Your handling of the controversy has been nothing short of Orwellian. I find this especially disturbing for the fact that your company controls almost every gateway to the internet that I use on a daily basis.

My phone is an Android device that is deeply integrated with your products. My personal and business email accounts are with your Gmail service. I use your search engine on a daily, almost hourly basis, and routinely default to the first three sites listed in the search results. Whenever I’m lost or traveling to an unfamiliar place, I use your maps and navigation service to guide me. Until this memo controversy, Chrome was my default browser. While I lived in Utah Valley, I even used your fiber network too connect to the internet.

It is abundantly clear to me now that I have been far too complacent in allowing myself to become wholly dependant on your company for almost every facet of my online connection to the world.

I cannot, at this time, fully divest myself from Google in the way that I have already divested myself from Facebook and Twitter. However, I can make gradual changes to lessen my dependence on your company’s products in the coming months and years. This principle will guide my future purchasing decisions, as well as the online products I use and the personal data I share.

In the world of tech, if you use a product or service without paying for it, then you are the product, wittingly or otherwise. This was not a problem for me when I still trusted your company. But you have profoundly violated that trust.

I won’t say that it is impossible for you to win back that trust. It would take an extraordinary act, but you are an extraordinary company. At the least, it would require an acknowledgement of the legitimacy of my concerns, and a reversal of the fascistic Orwellian turn that your company has taken. It would require, for example, changing the search results page for “Abraham Lincoln” to reflect that he was our first Republican president, not just a member of the National Union Party (which was simply the Republican Party, rebranded for the 1864 elections when Lincoln was the sitting president. He was elected in 1860 as a Republican, and calling him anything else is deliberately misleading.)

Without an extraordinary effort to win back the trust of the millions of Americans like me whose trust you have betrayed, in the coming months and years, you will see much less of me as I reduce my dependence on your products.


Joe Vasicek