The Prodigal Techbro

Maria Farrell in The Conversationalist:

A few months ago, I was contacted by a senior executive who was about to leave a marketing firm. He got in touch because I’ve worked on the non-profit side of tech for a long time, with lots of volunteering on digital and human rights. He wanted to ‘give back’. Could I put him in touch with digital rights activists? Sure. We met for coffee and I made some introductions. It was a perfectly lovely interaction with a perfectly lovely man. Perhaps he will do some good, sharing his expertise with the people working to save democracy and our private lives from the surveillance capitalism machine of his former employers. The way I rationalized helping him was: firstly, it’s nice to be nice; and secondly, movements are made of people who start off far apart but converge on a destination. And isn’t it an unqualified good when an insider decides to do the right thing, however late?

The Prodigal Son is a New Testament parable about two sons. One stays home to work the farm. The other cashes in his inheritance and gambles it away. When the gambler comes home, his father slaughters the fattened calf to celebrate, leaving the virtuous, hard-working brother to complain that all these years he wasn’t even given a small goat to share with his friends. His father replies that the prodigal son ‘was dead, now he’s alive; lost, now he’s found’. Cue party streamers. It’s a touching story of redemption, with a massive payload of moral hazard. It’s about coming home, saying sorry, being joyfully forgiven and starting again. Most of us would love to star in it, but few of us will be given the chance.

More here.