I got invited last night to a Microsoft suite at Safeco Field, to watch a Mariner’s game. Under the category of “biting the hand that feeds you”, I took the opportunity to unload on our hapless Sales rep about every Microsoft product that annoys me – and trust me, there was a long list. He was bragging about Proclarity – until I launched into my “have you ever tried to organize a briefing book?” speech. I ragged on Sharepoint. I really ragged on Office 2007. (“The ribbon? What in the wide world was Microsoft thinking? Did anybody there even use Excel 2007 graphs? They’re at least an order of magnitude slower than Excel 2003.”) When he pulled out his shiny new Cingular Blackjack, I asked him to try to file an email. (“Why couldn’t the SmartPhone developers just have used the tree control from Windows Mobile?”)
It was a rare and delightful opportunity to bitch: and because he’s a sales guy, and because Zango spends a substantial amount of money with Microsoft, he had to listen and pretend to smile and be nice. I love being self-righteous, especially when you’ve got the poor guy who has to listen to you at your mercy. I get to be knowledgeable and superior and annoying all at once. It’s addictive.
But I think that “addictive” is the right word to describe it. I’m sure that – like sex, or food – that wonderful feeling of self-righteous indignation has its place. God wouldn’t have made us love fighting so much if He hadn’t intended for us to do it now and again. But there are good times to fight and bad times to fight, and most of the times that we actually do fight are bad times. I’ve noticed that when I’m at my most self-righteous, I’m generally taking advantage of someone else who, for whatever reason, can’t defend himself: often because he’s not there, but often for other reasons, having to do with disparities in power. And it is bad to get addicted to that feeling of power. It’s pride by any other name: it’s as tempting as the Ring, and as dangerous and corrupting.
On a side note, Zango has had its share of detractors over the years, and I’ve often noticed this same attitude in many of them. It’s certainly an attitude I can understand, and even sympathize with. Heck, I know myself: if I didn’t work here, I’d be posting witticisms about Jeffery Dahmer on Slashdot too. It’s easier, and a lot more fun, to be self-righteous than to take the time to understand (or even notice) how diligently Zango’s been working to clean up the problems in our industry. Or how hard MS works to bring new products to market, whatever their challenges. Perhaps, ultimately, I shouldn’t point too many fingers (too often, anyway) at Zango's detractors: “Let him who is without sin” and all.