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Google is an Addict

I have lost a few friends to addiction, and spent a considerable amount of time learning about addiction and the way individuals get caught up in a spiral of destructive, compulsive behavior that eventually destroys them (usually after causing considerable amounts of collateral damage). Let 2013 go down as the year Google became an addict.

An addict, as you know it (someone addicted to drugs or some other “substance”) exhibits a fairly well-defined set of behaviors. Even if we temporarily ignore the following VERY IMPORTANT aspects of addiction:

  • genetics and other non-behavioral factors may modulate propensity for addiction (disease model)
  • addiction likely has roots in other health / mental health disorders (behavioral health, co-occurring disorders)

we still are left with the fact that addicts behave a certain way, as they spiral down into the depths of addiction towards a likely eventual “rock bottom”.  That “addict behavior” includes the following:

  • re-alignment of effort from tasks of daily living to the single task of securing a supply (of drugs)
  • shifting belief system that rationalizes changed behavior that supports drug-seeking (such as stealing to get cash for drugs, scamming to get drugs, ignoring needs of others/responsibilities)
  • increasing desire to isolate oneself, limiting interactions (and trustful relations) to like-minded peers (other addicts)
  • voluntary continuance of behavior that has serious negative consequences to self, even though aware of those consequences (compulsive, destructive behavior).

Funny how I see Google exhibiting these signs of addiction in 2013, with gusto.

Under Larry Page, Google re-aligned resources away from building the quality, innovative, and delightful search engine we enjoyed at Google the organization pulled back on the “20% innovation” concept, and aligned creative efforts with the core business of advertising targeting and identifying prospects for advertising targeting.

Google seems to have stripped autonomy away from the individual “leaders” it hired away from their innovative startups, and assigned them to the single task of “gaining more power” over the flow of traffic and commerce on Google’s properties. Google is clearly damaging its own projects, on the way to achieving these new goals.

Aside from an elite few, many top-tier technologists who “went to work for Google” are now basically pushing advertising onto the world for a living. That damage (to staff morale, to industry reputation, to the stream of talent formerly looking at Google as a great place to work) is considerable.
Google is addicted to power and money.

Google has CLEARLY started to isolate itself from others. No longer a fun, energetic member of the web economy, Google is actually hated by many companies and company leaders. Entire industries have engaged in discussions about “what to do about Google”. Retired tech industry veterans (the ones who don’t fear Google’s wrath) openly reference Google as “evil”.

Yet, in true addict fashion, Google’s behavior suggests it disagrees with the haters. In many cases, we see Google vilifying the haters, as if Google thought everyone else was out to get Google (justifying the abusive behaviors like a drug addict justifies stealing from a wealthy friend).

Google is an addict, and needs help.

Unfortunately we know that a deeply addicted individual — one who is truly under the power of the addiction and is not able to exert free will, will not seek help. No matter how much you may plead with Google to seek help, to get substance abuse counseling, and to realize how abusive and harmful its behavior is to the rest of the community,  Google will not do it. Google will only seek more, more, more of the drug it wants.

Every addict is unique, but it is very likely that it will take a near-death experience or a rock bottom crash to make Google change its ways. And there will be a ton of collateral damage.

In the mean time, hide your stuff.