The U.S. Census Bureau found that divorce rates for most age groups have been dropping since 1996 and yet around 50 percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce: 41 percent in the case of first marriages, 60 percent of second marriages and 73 percent of third marriages, to be precise.
These facts are well known, so one can’t help but wonder how so many people believe that their marriage will beat the odds and last forever. Well, it looks like that happens because they have good reason to do so: a recent study found that romantic love (defined as love with intensity, engagement, and sexual interest) can exist in long-term relationships.
However, romance may not be enough to make the relationship successful and prevent people from getting out of their marriages. There are many reasons why people do that, from infidelity to differences in expectations, from financial difficulties to differences in how to raise children. Whatever the reasons, the truth is many people fall out of love and walk away from their relationships -even if/when these were meant to last a lifetime.
That is what has happened to me, just a few weeks ago. Now that I have recovered from the trauma associated with any breakup (amicable as that may be) I am ready to discuss it openly and move forward. Oh, no, I am not talking about my marriage. No, no, no. I am referring to my long-lasting relationship with Google, that I ended a few weeks ago, unilaterally and irrevocably.
If you have been following this blog (or myself) you know that I was in love with Google: I thought that it was the most innovative tech company in the world, believed in their mission statement, loved their products and services (from Android to ChromeOS to Google Apps), followed their moonshots, craved for their new launches…
And I still do. Really, I do. But I have decided to stop using them, because this relationship got to a point where I had the feeling that I was giving Google way more than Google was giving me. So the relationship was skewed, unbalanced, and I was getting the raw end of the deal. How?
– Google was giving me great products and services at low (devices) or no cost (services). Additionally, it was giving me a peek into the future of Artificial Intelligence, right in my pocket, turning my phone into a truly smart device that could not only fulfill my needs, but anticipate them
– I was giving Google… everything: my emails, my calendars, my notes, my documents, my photographs, my music, my videos… literally, all my digital life. Otherwise, their servers could not do those magic tricks (sometimes it almost felt that way, like it was magic) and anticipate my whims and desires.
Day in and day out, I could not help but feel that Google was getting the best part of the deal, at my expense. I understand: Google’s mission is “to organize the world’s information” and they can not do that if they do not have it first. So we give it to them, for free. And then they monetize it and reap huge benefits in the process.
Which is okay with me -up to a point: It is okay that they make loads of money (that is what you start a company for, after all) because that allows them to offer the public great products and services at low or no cost. It is not okay that they use me (my digital self) to do so. But I should know better: Google is a data company, so it is only natural that they squeeze up to the last cent from the data we give them happily.
As to what we get in return, Andrew Lewis said it better:
If you are not paying for it, you’re not the customer, you’re the product.”